An animal welfare activist recovered his stolen car, roughly 24 hours after it vanished in Johor Baru on Monday evening.
But Derrick Tan, who had bought the second-hand silver Toyota Mark X just weeks ago, paid a heavy price to get it back.
A source told The Straits Times that the 35-year-old paid a four-figure sum in Singapore dollars to a car theft syndicate.
And, while his car was intact, barring some damage to its ignition system, the cash and personal belongings that had been in it were gone.
Only his passport, identification card, driving licence and some insurance papers remained.
Mr Tan's ordeal began when he went for a massage with three friends at Yisheng Reflexology in Jalan Serampang, about 7km from the Woodlands Checkpoint, at 8.15pm.
As it was late and the parking lots near the massage parlour were full, he parked a little further away. But when he returned two hours later, his car had disappeared.
Read also: JB thieves steal S'pore man's car in 10 seconds
Mr Tan, who has a substantial following on Facebook due to his animal welfare work at Voices For Animals, posted a plea for help on Facebook on Monday night.
The post, which had more than 8,000 shares, was subsequently deleted.
A new one - just after 2am yesterday - said his car had been retrieved and that he had returned to Singapore.
Speaking to The Straits Times on Tuesday afternoon before his car was recovered, he said many people - even strangers - had offered him money and help.
The car thief had also been using his credit card which Mr Tan quickly cancelled.
But, before he did that, he received a few SMS messages about the transactions made.
Some of his Facebook friends suggested that he trace the shops where the transactions were made, and ask them for CCTV footage of those who used the card.
Read also: 3 cases of stolen S'pore cars in JB in a week
This was Mr Tan's third trip to Johor with the Mark X.
When he reported the case to the Malaysian police, they guessed that it was a Mark X once he told them it was a Toyota.
"The police said they (the thieves) love Toyota Mark Xs as the parts are easy to sell," he said. The police told him that the thieves have a device that can unlock and disarm the sirens on Toyota and Honda cars quickly.
He said: "It's scary to lose your car in Johor Baru.
"I just want people to be more aware of the danger when they drive here."
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