17 June 2016

Snatch thefts and muggings... in Malaysia

Every Malaysian has read, heard about or even experienced a snatch theft, or worse, a mugging.

Sure, such crime could happen in any country. But I live here. In Malaysia.

How do you protect yourself from falling victim to such a crime?

My experience # 1

This happened  20 years ago when I was still a Chambering Student fresh out of university and undergoing my pupillage with a law firm in Kuala Lumpur.

It was a Saturday morning and I was going to the office. I had parked my car and was walking along the road towards the office building. Handbag was on my shoulder facing out towards the street.


I was walking in the same direction as the traffic flow.


A motorbiker came noiselessly behind me, and smoothly grabbed my handbag by its sling. I didn't scream. (I'm not the screaming type) . I probably jerked my handbag strap towards me more out of reflex than a conscious effort to save it.

Fortunately for me, my cheap handbag (hey, I was only a poorly paid chambering student then) strap snapped and the snatch thief rode away. All in about 5 seconds.

God's grace.


  • Always walk against traffic so that you can see oncoming vehicles.
  • Walk as far into the sidewalk as you possibly can.
  • Sling your handbag on your other shoulder, facing inwards away from and not outwards to traffic
  • Be alert, and listen listen listen.
  • Never pull or fight to save your handbag. You might fall and be dragged on the road by these thugs who care nought about your life.

My experience #2

I had arrived at my parents' house at 830pm after work, to pick up my kids. This was 10 years ago.

My parents, brother, kids and maid were in the house. My brother's car was parked in the driveway and I pulled up behind.

I wasn't sure whether the gate could close with 2 cars parked nose to back in the driveway. So I did something uncharacteristic of me.

I got out of my car with the car engine running and the gate opened.The gate was open!

One big mistake.

As I surveyed the distance between my car and the gate, deciding that yes the gate could close, a motorbike with 2 helmeted men rode by just outside the gate. I felt alarm almost immediately.

Good reaction.

In a second, the motorbike did a U-turn and came back towards my parents' gate. I KNEW I was in trouble. The pillion guy jumped off the bike and moved towards me. The gate was still open.


In that few seconds as the guy was coming close to the gate, and as I stood and watched him, I frantically thought:
  • Do I shut the gate with the remote in my hand? Of course!
  • Will it close in time? I don't know, but do it!
  • If it doesn't close in time, do I run towards the house? I didn't have the house keys in my hand, they were in the car. So, no! Don't run to the house.

I was more worried for my family than myself. I didn't want the muggers to hold me hostage with a knife to my throat and use me to force their entry into my parents' house. To rob my parents and brother. To possibly hurt my kids. That possibility spurred me into speedy action to get back into my car! It's nearer. Go, now!

So I did. I pressed the gate control, turned in my high heels and ran back to my car, jumped in, slammed the door shut and locked it. I could see in the rear view mirror that the gate had not shut in time and the biker criminal had come through. I saw his helmeted head bobbing on the left side of my car (we are right hand drivers in Malaysia).

I wanted to reverse my car into him, but he was at the side, not the back, of my car. Damn!

I heard him trying to open the passenger door on the left. I pressed down hard on my car horn and it blared. I saw my dad and brother come to the front door of the house. I hoped they would NOT come out. I didn't want them in danger.

Thankfully, with me holed up in the car and my family safe in the house, and my car horn blaring, the 2 biker-would-be-robbers decided to leave. Bastards.


  • Never get out of your car before you shut the gate.
  • Make sure you are not followed before you get out of your car
  • Stay calm and think
  • Play out different scenarios in your head to prepare for an emergency. I consider this experience an emergency
  • Consider running over would-be attackers with your car if you have the chance to

I attribute the safe outcome of experience #2 to calmness and a certain measure of mental preparedness. And God's grace. Always God's grace.

Be safe, everyone.

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