Last weekend I was in Johor Bahru for the Spinning Down Under 2012 Ultimate Frisbee Tournament. It was held at Padang Sri Gelam, Dataran Bandar Raya Johor Bahru, opposite the large clock tower that is well known as a landmark in JB. It was a two day tournament over the weekend of the 14th and 15th of July.
When we (my girlfriend and I) arrived at the field on day two of the tournament on Sunday morning, at roughly around 945, we placed my backpack in the trunk and went off to the fields. She came back an hour later to pick up an umbrella and nothing was amiss.
Once our games were finally over, we came back to her car, a Hyundai Getz, at about 4pm. She put in the key to unlock the door, only to notice that it was already unlocked.
Within a few minutes we noticed that not only was the lock on the driver’s side broken (ie. she didn’t leave the car unlocked), but my backpack, which was also in the trunk, was gone. Upon further inspection, we also noticed that keys to her mom’s office, and a bag of coins was also stolen.
Thankfully, all our valuables were with us, and the backpack only contained clothing and nothing else. The only concern now is repairing the lock on the car, and potentially changing locks that the various keys were for.
The day before this incident as we were driving to the fields, we noticed a heavy jam on a road that was usually calm. A car had overturned and Malaysian motorists, as they are known for, stopped to look.
A presumed Chinese gangster was beating up another Chinese man as onlookers watched from afar, wondering whether or not to intervene. The recent Penang case has shown that apathy, or perhaps lack of empathy is somewhat existent amongst Malaysians when witnessing a crime.
Kitty Genovese and the bystander effect come to mind.
We continued on our way, unaware of what could have been done, except perhaps to call the police before someone was seriously injured.
I digress. We wondered why our car was chosen - was it a lack of an alarm system? Were the thieves watching her as she took her umbrella the second time? How did they decide that it was an easy target?
The car was parked in an open air car park, right beside main roads and there was a constant flow of people in the area. There was nothing to suggest that there was anything valuable in the car either. The thief had also pulled a wrong lever and opened the petrol flap instead of the trunk, which also showed us his presence in the car.
We wondered whether he disposed of my backpack nearby, soon after discovering that its contents were of no value whatsoever. (Sentimental value to me maybe, it contained jerseys and shorts that I received from the various runs and teams I’ve played for.)
Was the crime premeditated? On Friday night, a fully tinted Waja trailed her car as well as she picked me up near CIQ Hotel on Jalan Lumba Kuda. A lone female driver at around midnight would be considered an easy target.
The suspicious vehicle stopped following her car after he noticed I was inside. Thank God.
Were the keys stolen for a reason? We could only hope not. She went back the next day to check if the thief had ditched the backpack nearby, but no such luck.
Despite recent newspaper reports on how statistically, crime was lower at the same point in time last year in Malaysia, recent happenings have caused many Malaysians to be - well, scared.
Violent crimes and kidnappings go unchecked, while security companies reap in the profits to be made from the setting up of ‘gated’ housing areas and an increased presence in public spaces.
Recent CCTV footage of a security guard watching as a lady’s bag gets snatched in front of him, wondering whether he should help, also raises the question of whether or not these guards are qualified - and whether or not they are being paid enough to get involved.
This leads to my next question - why the need for so many private security companies? Are people taking security into their own hands by hiring these companies?
Where are our police?
Have conditions deteriorated to the point where almost everyone I know knows someone who has been a victim of a crime? My sister was also victim to a snatch thief, while my dad experienced credit card fraud.
That’s three people in one household.
Stay safe everyone.