Shop operators in Klang are so fed up with thieves damaging their roller shutters and glass doors when breaking an entry, that some of them put up signs pleading to them not to do so.
Some of them even leave the doors unlocked as the constant damage to their property costs them more than the items that are stolen.
The areas reported having rampant break-ins in recent months are Bandar Bukit Tinggi, Taman Bayu Perdana, Bandar Botanic, Southern Park and Taman Sentosa.
They claim that there were about 100 break-ins in the last three months and victims have lost hundreds of thousands of ringgit in cash and valuables, as well as damaged properties.
StarMetro check revealed that the thieves cut a section of the roller shutter leaving a big enough gap to enter the premises after breaking the front glass door.
Shop operators are having sleepless nights anticipating a break-in every day.
Latest victim Jimmy Tan, who operates a shop in Taman Bayu Perdana that designs uniform, said he was unfortunate that the break-in took place just minutes after he left the shop on Thursday morning.
After working through the night, Tan said he left the shop at 5.30am and later received a telephone call from a neighbour that his premises had been broken into.
He said the neighbour was about to open her chicken rice shop at 6.30am when she noticed his shutter and glass door damaged.
"I lost RM1,000 and a laptop, including software worth RM20,000," he said, adding that he had actually left the shutter unlocked in anticipation of the break-in, but the intruder was unaware of it.
Hairdresser Jasmin Chia, who operates her business in Bukit Tinggi 2, said more than 50 break-ins had been reported in the area and she was one of the victims.
Chia lost only a few hundred ringgit from the break-in but the thief had caused extensive losses and damages to her property.
"They damaged the telecommunication router, decoder, closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera, shutter and glass door, incurring losses of up to RM15,000," she said
A pet shop owner from the same area, who declined to be identified, said he lost RM300 from the cashier but spent RM10,000 to repair the damages caused to the premises.
"I need to change the shutter, glass door and the CCTV," he added.
Unlike the usual break-ins, StarMetro learned that these were staged by a single thief who would come in a motorcycle, wearing a jacket, mask, and gloves, and armed with a metal rod to prise open the shutter.
This was evident from the footage captured on the CCTV recording outside one shop.
However, it is not certain whether all the break-ins were by an individual or members of a group who operated individually.
According to the victims, it takes the thief only a minute to open the shutter.
Klang councillor Tony Leong said the thief had mastered the art of dismantling a section of the shutter within a minute.
"In most cases, the intruder escapes only with cash, and valuables such as laptop and electronic devices," he said, adding that the break-ins were normally in the early morning hours.
Leong said shop operators were living in constant fear of break-ins at their premises and some of them had even left the shutters of their premises unlocked.
Realising that the thief was not interested in stealing money from the premises and the high cost of repairing the damages, he said they thought it would be a good idea to leave the shutters unlocked.
"The losses incurred from repairing the damages are too high compared to the money stolen from the premises.
"A trader even left a welcome note to the stranger by stating "please do not break the glass as the shutter is not locked," he said, adding that the message was written both in English and Mandarin.
Restaurant operator R. Jeyakumar from Jalan Batu Nialam 2B, said the break-ins had left traders in the lurch and the frequency of such incidents was unbelievable.
He said his premises had been hit twice but the first attempt was foiled by the security alarm.
"In another incident, they stole my gas cylinders from behind the shop.
"There has been so many break-ins and the problem has caused a lot of unrest among the business community in the area," he said.