Couple fearful after losing handbag during smash-and-grab in JB

SINGAPORE - A smash-and-grab incident in Johor Baru has not only left a Singaporean couple in shock, but also in fear that they might no longer be safe in their own home.

Ms Fie, 41, a property agent, and her husband, who only wanted to be known as Mr Muka, 42, had gone to Johor Baru via the Causeway on Tuesday afternoon with their younger daughter, Angel, to shop at a Giant supermarket.

They were in the car when two men on a motorcycle smashed the front passenger side window and snatched a handbag containing Ms Fie's identity card and the keys to their Bukit Batok flat.

Said the property agent: "The handbag had everything - my IC, driver's licence, three bank cards, work security pass, house keys, car keys. The IC has our address. I'm afraid they can come to my flat anytime.

"At night, I can't sleep. I keep waking up thinking of the sound of someone smashing our windows."

In fact, the couple is so fearful that they have placed their two daughters, aged seven and 16, and son, 14, with Ms Fie's sister for the next few days and are changing the locks to their flat.

Mr Muka, who was driving, had stopped at a red traffic light at Jalan Tebrau at about 5.45pm when a motorcycle pulled up next to the front passenger window.

The next thing Ms Fie knew, the window had shattered and someone had grabbed her handbag.

It happened so fast that it took her a moment to realise.

Ms Fie later recalled that she had seen the men on the motorcycle overtaking their car earlier, before slowing down.

Thinking that it was unusual, she pointed it out to her husband: "Why did that motorbike overtake us and is now moving so slowly?"

The motorbike then stopped before a bus stop, and their car passed it before stopping at the traffic light with two cars ahead of them.

Ms Fie said she was sitting with her gold Kate Spade handbag, which she had bought three weeks ago, at her feet when she heard a bang to her left.

She turned and saw the glass window cracking before shattering into tiny pieces.

"Everything shattered. I was shocked and ducked towards my husband. I thought it was a stone someone had thrown at me," she said.

'Very fast'

"Then one of them snatched my handbag and they rode away very fast."

When they checked the video footage from their in-car camera, less than five seconds had passed from the time the window shattered to the thieves fleeing.

Ms Fie said: "I was traumatised. I cried to my husband, 'It's my bag and everything is inside'."

Their daughter, who was in the back seat, was crying and scolding the thieves in Malay: "You stole my mum's money!"

Mr Muka said he wanted to chase them, but Ms Fie said she stopped him as she was worried that they could be part of a gang and he might get hurt. "In a way, I thank God they only wanted my money," she said.

Her handbag contained $200 and RM250 (S$97). Fortunately, their passports were in Mr Muka's small sling bag.

The family stopped at a nearby petrol station and an attendant there called the police. Two police cars later escorted them to the Central Police Station, where they made a report.

They also went through their in-car camera footage with the police.

The footage showed that the motorcycle had been trailing them for about 1km.

"They were 'window shopping', looking into every car, and glanced into ours twice. They weren't only targeting Singapore-registered cars, they looked into Malaysian cars as well," said Mr Muka.

He now studies the footage twice a day - before he sleeps at night and when he wakes up in the morning.

"Every time I look at the video, it makes me angry. I want to find out who they are. I tried to make out their licence plate number, but couldn't."

The couple are regular visitors to Johor Baru, going there every few days to visit relatives, mostly using the Tuas Checkpoint.

Ms Fie said they have been taking precautions of late, locking their car whenever they stopped, even when just getting petrol. But the couple are giving up on their trips to Malaysia for now.

"If we do go, it will be by convoy, with other family members travelling with us, so at least they will be there if something happens," Ms Fie said.

"We want to let Singaporeans know this is happening - it's not only pedestrians who can get their things snatched. It can happen even in a car at a traffic light, in broad daylight."

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