Frequent patrols and guards at hotspots can help prevent snatch thefts

MALAYSIA - Snatch theft is still a problem in most parts of the city and other urban areas as thieves continue to prey on unwary people when there is an opportunity.

The public was angered by the death of Sister Juliana Lim, who died from injuries after being struck on the head with a helmet by snatch thieves in Seremban recently.

Petaling Jaya residents have also complained to StarMetro over the rampant attack by snatch thieves on quiet streets and isolated lanes in Petaling Jaya.

One such area is the Lorong Utara B in Section 52. This road may seem busy during peak hours but snatch theft is rampant here.

Among the landmarks around the area are the Cobra Club, Tun Hussein Onn Eye Hospital, German School of Kuala Lumpur, Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Jaya, The Istara Condo and the Astaka field.

A spokesman from the Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Jaya said there were cases of the temple visitors falling victims to snatch thieves.

The carpark at Astaka is one of the hotspots for snatch thefts. "The attackers also break into cars parked at the public parking bays along the road," he said.

German School of Kuala Lumpur administration manager Maya Shastri said that last year, a parent's bag was snatched.

"A small police beat-base was set up outside the school during peak hours after the incident. However, the police are not stationed there anymore.

"The police do patrol this area during peak hours.

"However, it will be better if the police are stationed here in the morning and afternoon when parents send and pick up their children from school," she said.

The Istara Condominium Residents Association chairman Prithiv Raj said snatch thefts happen mostly at the entrance and exit of Lorong Utara B.

"The thieves prey on those who are waiting for a taxi and those who may be walking to the parking area near the Astaka field," he said.

Morning visitors to the Taman Jaya park are also among the victims of snatch thieves.

Section 10 Residents Association (RA) president Ronald Danker related to StarMetro a case involving a park visitor at the Taman Jaya lake who was accosted by men with machetes.

"A morning walker jumped into the lake to save himself from being attacked by five men wielding machetes.

"The incident happened just a few weeks ago. A parking attendant witnessed the incident but was helpless to do anything," said Danker.

He added that students were also at risk of becoming victims of snatch theft when they are heading to the Taman Jaya LRT station.

the public should always be alert as snatch thieves prey on the unwary. Picture is posed by models. The public Other hotspots are outside places of worship such as those in Jalan Templer.

MBPJ STEPS UP

The Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) embarked on a Safety Patrolling Programme in July last year.

The initiative is in accordance with the Local Agenda 21 and part of the council's Safe City programme.

This is a collaboration between the council and the police.

Both the council and the police patrol the hotspots in the city four times a week.

The hotspots consist of commercial, residential and recreational areas as well as places with public transportation stations.

A MBPJ spokesman said the council enforcement officers were assisting the police.

"The police have the power to stop individuals and request for their identification.

"The police are also empowered to conduct checks on vehicles.

"MBPJ assists the police during the patrolling session," he said.

The council uses its patrol car to make their rounds.

Each session is split into two groups.

"Each group consists of two MBPJ officers and two police officers, who will patrol for four hours during each occasion," he said.

The council has also increased its enforcement team by 50 personnel to help improve security for residents.

NEIGHBOURHOOD PATROL

Before this current joint effort, MBPJ launched the Neighbourhood Safety Patrolling Team in 2011 under the Petaling Jaya Safe Programme.

This programme allocates RM5,000 yearly to residents associations and Rukun Tetanga to carry out public safety-related activities.

"They can conduct activities such as safety talks, organise a neighbourhood watch and purchase items for the purpose of patrolling their neighbourhoods," said a MBPJ spokesman.

The council received 65 applications in 2011 for the funds.

In 2012, there were 72 applications and in 2013, the applications increased to 85.

The council allocated RM325,000, RM360,000 and RM425,000 respectively for the three years.

This year, the council allocated some RM700,000 under the programme. In addition, the council distributed some 62 bicycles to several residents associations and neighbourhood watch groups.

These bicycles are used for the purpose of patrolling the neighbourhood.

The spokesman said the council had received positive feedback from the public for its crime-prevention measures.

The council hopes to expand its patrolling team in the near future and hopes to receive the green light to form its own auxiliary police team.

TIPS TO STAY SAFE

Subang Jaya community policing liaison officer Joe Mahinder Singh shared a few steps the public could take to avoid becoming a snatch-theft victim.

He advised the public to stay alert and avoid using their handphones and headphones while walking along lonely lanes.

"Be alert of your surroundings and do not be distracted by talking on the phone," he said.

Joe also advised women not to wear costume jewellery that looked like gold.

"There are accessories that look very similar to gold. The thief will not know that you are not wearing real gold.

"He will attack you first and grab your jewellery. In the process, you can get badly injured. Do avoid wearing them altogether, for your safety," he added.

Joe said event organisers should also place their own security detail or engage volunteers to guard the parking lots during celebrations.

"The Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Jaya can position volunteers outside the temple and at the car park during temple festivals.

"The thieves do not want to be caught and they will avoid places with security presence," he said.

He also suggested that event organisers inform their local police of the events taking place.

"The police will conduct extra patrolling if they are notified of events in advance," he added.

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