While many Singaporeans are taking advantage of the low ringgit exchange by doing their Hari Raya shopping in Johor Bahru (JB), there are those who fall victims to theft, such as the recent case of Ms Sarwani Sahir.
Ms Sarwani, 41, shared her experience on Facebook, which has since gone viral with over 2,700 shares when AsiaOne checked on Tuesday (July 7).
Visitors to JB approached by Berita Harian (BH) last Thursday said that while JB generally feels safe, they still take extra precaution such as not leaving valuables in the car and bringing their passports with them while shopping.
When contacted last Thursday, Ms Sarwani said she did not expect herself to be a victim of the many stories of thefts that she's had heard of in JB when her car was broken into last week.
Ms Sarwani told BH that she often visits JB on the weekends.
"Other than visiting my grandfather who lives there, I also visit Johor to do my shopping. I often hear about Singaporeans getting robbed there, but never thought I'd fall victim myself," said the mother of two who works at the Singapore Sports Hub.
According to Ms Sarwani, the thief had smashed the window of her Honda Stream and ran off with her car's stereo system.
Before the incident, Ms Sarwani had written on her Facebook page about the issue: "I've been wondering why do these incidents always occur at Plaza Angsana in Tampoi, JB.
"There are many cases occurring at the same area yet nothing seems to be done to tighten its security. So if you are planning to shop there, you have to be alert because 'they' know that there are many Singaporean cars entering Johor during this festive season."
Before this, another victim of theft in JB was Mr Darren Tan, 39. He and his wife had just left Woodlands Checkpoint to enter Malaysia at 6.30pm on June 23 when they were attacked while their car was at a traffic light.
Another frequent visitor to JB, Mr Ariffin Ahmad, says that he always takes extra measures especially when shopping there.
"Shopping in Johor is enjoyable. But we have to be careful. If possible, try not to leave your valuables in the car and always bring your passport with you," he advises, when approached at the public market Pasar Larkin last Thursday.
Visiting Johor soon? Here are some tips to protect you and your family, as well as your belongings, according to JB resource guide, JohorGuru.com.
1. When driving into JB: If another car happens to bump into yours, do not get out of your vehicle as this may be a ploy to rob you.
Sometimes, robbers pretend to be police officers to lure you out of your vehicle. To check if they are legitimate, ask for identification proofs and make sure their vehicle and helmets carry the "polis" insignia.
Tip: Avoid driving through dark or quiet roads at night. If a collision takes place, drive to the nearest police station for assessment instead of stopping your car to check for damages. Also, take down the license plate of the other vehicle.
2. Snatch thieves often strike in pairs and on a motorcycle. They usually target women and the elderly, pedestrians carrying sling bags or valuables, and those who are distracted by their gadgets are also targets.
Tip: Keep your cash in your pocket.
3. Pick pockets: They often strike alone or in a group. Avoid hanging your bags behind the seat in the restaurant or placing your purse/wallet on the table.
Tip: Always keep your bags zipped and within sight.
4. Con man: They are known to use "scratch and win" games or scented freebies to lure or trick people.
Tip: Do not accept anything from strangers. If it is too good to be true, it is best to just walk away.
5. Gangsters: If you see a group of gangsters approaching, avoid them at all cost. They might try to coerce you to accede to their demands. If you encounter such people, immediately seek help from local authorities.
6. Car theft or break-ins: These incidents can occur anywhere; at public areas or popular malls. In some cases, thieves may smash the windows of your vehicles to steal items.
Tip: Do not leave your passport or valuables exposed in your car - leave them in the boot, covered. Drivers can also use a steering wheel lock to discourage thieves from breaking into your vehicle.
7. Car robbers: Such robberies can occur even if there are people in the vehicle. The robbers will open your unlocked door, force you out with a weapon and drive away with your vehicle.
Tip: Always lock your vehicle doors at all times. Do not leave your vehicle unattended and be on a look-out for suspicious characters nearby.
8. Armed robberies at eateries: Tourists should remain vigilant when dining even if it is during day time or in crowded areas.
Tip: Do not bring valuables such as tablets or laptop when you dine at road side stalls.
Places in JB to be extra vigilant at:
1) Taman Century (areas around Holiday Plaza)
2) Taman Pelangi (areas around Pelangi Plaza)
3) Taman Tampoi
4) Taman Skudai (Mas Selamat was caught near Skudai)
5) Taman Sentosa (a district filled with bars and night clubs)
6) Taman Johor Jaya
7) Larkin Bus Terminal
8) Jalan Dato Abdullah Tahir (car wash street near New York Hotel)
9) Areas around Grand Paragon Hotel
10) Shell Station near Johor Customs