SEPANG - Theirs was a family that preyed together. And their targets were people who were praying.
A man, his wife and his stepdaughter looked for their victims at surau, stealing handbags and valuables while the owners were absorbed in worship.
When they were finally arrested, they were believed to have been responsible for at least 18 thefts in several areas in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur as well as in Genting Highlands and Seremban.
Sepang OCPD Supt Mohd Yusoff Awang said police caught on to the racket following the theft of a handbag belonging to a 30-year-old woman who was praying at the IOI City Mall surau in Puchong on Feb 2.
"She had her purse, MyKad, ATM card and an iPhone 5S in the bag.
"Based on this incident, investigations led us to a double-storey house in Taman Hulu Langat Jaya in Cheras," he said at the Sepang police headquarters yesterday.
He said a Sepang CID team raided the house at about 11.30pm on Feb 5 and arrested two women and a man aged between 23 and 47.
"We seized 26 mobile phones, seven tablets, three laptops, six cameras, handbags and jewellery in a basket.
"All the items are believed to have been stolen," he said, adding that the husband and wife tested positive for methamphetamine.
Supt Mohd Yusoff said investigations had linked them to 18 cases so far "but we believe there are more".
On their modus operandi, he said: "The man would wait in the getaway car while the mother and daughter went to a surau in search of victims.
"One of them would pretend to pray while the other would wait to steal belongings that were left unattended."
Supt Mohd Yusoff said the three had stolen from surau at the Dengkil North and South R&R, Genting Sempah R&R, Nilai R&R, Setia Alam Mall and Sungai Buloh Jejantas R&R as well as the Bukit Jelutong mosque.
They were believed to also be involved in a number of thefts at the Seremban North and South R&Rs.
Supt Mohd Yusof said the mother was wanted for theft in Johor Baru and for involvement in a fatal accident in Malacca while the man was previously convicted for possession of dangerous weapons.
Police have advised PLUS to install cameras at the affected R&R surau.