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Time to move the cops, again

Publication Date : 22-06-2012

 

The success of the Malaysian government’s efforts to combat street crime will come to naught if nothing is done on the recent spate of high-profile cases that give the impression that traffic light junctions and car parks at shopping complexes are crime-infested areas.

It cannot be denied that there had been several high-profile crimes in the past couple of weeks that have struck fear among the people, especially those living in the Klang Valley.

There was the botched abduction at a mall in Mutiara Damansara where the brave young lady managed to jump out of the car after the crooks had grabbed her at the car park.

Then there was the other robbery at the car park at a shopping complex in the golden triangle in Kuala Lumpur where the victim was attacked by two guys with a knife.

Of course, there was the kidnapping of Dutch boy Nayati Moodliar who was taken just a few hundred metres from his home as he was walking to school in the posh upscale area of Mont Kiara.

All three cases received not only wide media coverage but more importantly, went viral on the Internet.

It also got many people to open up to discuss this issue of crime – a highly sensitive subject with most – and gave the impression that crime is on the rise.

The victims of all three cases used Facebook to highlight their plight. Nayati’s family even ended up negotiating the ransom payment via FB messaging.

The two women who were robbed at the car parks were online “experts” as one is an Internet marketeer and the other is working with an e-solutions firm. They used their cyber skills to tell the world how they became victims of vicious robbers.

Internet marketeer Chin Xin-Ci, 25, was almost abducted by two men at a basement car park of the mall.

After she escaped and recovered, she related the incident on her Facebook page and her some 13,000 fans made sure it went viral. Chin was a very attractive woman, after all.

It didn’t help that less than 24 hours after Chin’s incident, two women were robbed of RM80,000 at the same place.

The other victim at the mall in Kuala Lumpur, went one step further.

She put lots of photograph of herself, showing her bandaged arms, on her Facebook page. Being a business development manager for a solutions company, she knew what to do.

She broke all convention by revealing her name and face. She was not afraid to tell her attackers and the management of the car park what she thought of them.

Car park crimes have become extra sensitive in Malaysia after the Canny Ong case in Bangsar. The mystery and horrific murder of such a pretty young woman left many Malaysians angry.

Such anger has no doubt returned with the latest car park attacks. Women groups and even the police are now issuing safety advisories on how to handle such situations.

In fact, I have received several e-mails from friends saying how they would not permit their wives and daughters to go to shopping centres on their own.

Then there were also a slew of robberies at busy traffic light junctions where the robbers would ride past in a motorcycle and smash a car window to grab a woman’s handbag on the passenger seat.

Such robberies are just like snatch thieves and these crooks choose heavily jammed junctions as their place of attack because their victims are trapped and no one can give chase.

In the past couple of weeks, two of my friends fell victims to such robberies. When they reported the matter to the police, they were told that the place where they had been attacked was a common place for such crime.

Four years ago, when Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak singled out reducing street crime as one of his priorities, Pemandu identified a way of doing so – by redeploying underutilised police personnel to “hot” crime zones.

It worked because the mere presence of uniformed policemen frightened off would-be criminals like snatch thieves from the area.

The time has come for Pemandu to do the same for car parks and traffic light junctions. Catching these type of crooks must be made a priority. It would not take too many policemen.

Stationing two policemen – both in uniform on motorcycles – at each of these junctions will not be too taxing on the force and would be very effective in cutting down such public crimes.

Mall car park robberies can easily be stopped by making the mall and parking management take the responsibility for the security of their visitors and tenants.

More mall cops should be placed at the car parks to ensure security. Putting up as many CCTVs as possible and brightening the car park area will also provide a sense of security for the public.

All these are easily done and the cost will be minimal compared to having to carry out PR campaigns to repair damaged reputations because the last thing any mall wants is to be known as a dangerous place.

Wong Sai Wan is Executive editor, The Star

 

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