MALACCA - Fishermen in Klebang Besar here suspect "outsiders" ransacked their village and stole their boats and fishing equipment at dawn.
Seven villagers said they lost four fibreglass fishing boats, seven outboard engines of variety horse power, a fishing net roller, fishing nets, petrol drums and batteries, among others, amounting to some RM80,000.
Azmir Mohd Zain, 41, said he first found out about the theft of his boat and seven others belonging to his friends when he wanted to go out to the sea at 6.20am yesterday.
"Our boats were berthed nearby to each other.
"I was shocked when I did not see them at the jetty.
"I called the others and we borrowed a boat to go out to the sea to look for our boats," he said when met at the Klebang Besar Fishing Jetty.
Azmir said they later saw three boats with their engines missing floating near the river mouth of Sungai Klebang, followed by another boat with all equipment intact about 1km from the Pulau Upeh jetty.
Azmir alone lost a boat, two sets of net, a 60hp outboard engine, two batteries and a global positioning system device, which was estimated at about RM10,000.
Another fisherman, Rashid Md Zin, 42, said his loss was estimated at RM20,000 including a fibreglass boat, net hauler and a newly-bought Suzuki 40hp engine.
"I feel lost as it is my only boat to go out to sea.
"I have no idea how to continue fishing now," said the father of four young children, adding that he still has to pay some RM500 in monthly instalment for his boat and other equipment.
Klebang Besar Fishing Jetty Fishermen Committee chairman Md Said Adam said he believed a group of "outsiders" was responsible for the theft.
"An angler told me that he saw a boat pulling eight other boats out of the jetty at about 5am. It was quite dark at that time and he thought it was one of the fishermen here," he said.
The fishermen lodged their reports at the Batang Tiga police station hours after the incident.
Klebang assemblyman Datuk Lim Ban Hong said he would be in touch with the Fisheries Department and relevant parties for assistance to be extended to the affected fishermen.
"I will request the Marine Department and the Marine Police Unit to beef up patrol and surveillance at the fishing jetty area," he said.