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Thursday January 13, 2011

Business operators in SS2, Petaling Jaya living in fear

The business community in SS2 Petaling Jaya are on edge after another unusual fire razed two double-storey bridal houses on the main thoroughfare of SS2/24. Bridal houses along the road have become targets of recent break-ins leading to arson.

Owners of other bridal houses in the area are living in fear as they believe the suspect or suspects could strike again.

On Tuesday, at about 5am, two fires broke out at two separate bridal houses about 300m apart in Jalan SS2/24.

Most business owners in the area believe the fires are due to intense business rivalry among the 26 bridal houses for the upcoming Chinese New Year.

In ruins: Sophia Bridal House in Jalan SS2/75 which was razed on Tuesday.

Since Dec 26 until now, four bridal houses have been broken into, vandalised and torched.

Tuesday’s fire saw the lobby area of Touch Collection Wedding Studio razed with expensive bridal gowns, mannequins, props, camera equipment and customers’ records reduced to ashes.

The whole of the ground floor was blackened with soot but the upstairs portion remained intact.

The other outlet, TOM Collections was a little luckier as only its showcase was damaged.

Touch Collection operating executive Khoo Soo Soon, 35, said she could not understand the motive for the arson attack but agreed that business rivalry could be the cause of the spate of break-ins and fires.

“It is insane for people to go around torching business premises just because of competition.

One of many: Touch Collection Wedding Studio is one of the bridal shops in Jalan SS2/24, Petaling Jaya

“Business is good and there is enough customers to go around for the bridal houses here. Irresponsible action like this has caused me an estimated total loss of RM600,000,” she said.

Khoo added that all the expensive evening gowns with special embroidery were destroyed and that customers’ data could not be recovered.

“However, customers need not worry as we have moved to the immediate shoplot Love Vision Wedding Studio that is next door. Our business is still running as the festive season is around the corner and customers are streaming in.

“We are glad that the police has beefed up surveillance around the bridal houses with makeshift police beat bases, comprising just tables, chairs and umbrella, set up near the shops,” she said.

Sophia Wedding Studio managing director Roger Chung said his bridal house was broken into at the end of December last year and he believes the same persons could have come in again at about 6am on New Year Eve’s and torched the outlet in Jalan SS2/75.

In a mess: The interior of Touch Bridal House which was damaged by fire.

“We do not have any problems with other outlets and we are perplexed over the recent happenings. It is worrying,” he said.

Petaling Jaya police are on full alert over the spate of fires within a three-week span and which has raised concern among local residents, business operators and customers.

A resident, who declined to be named, said: “It could be local gangsters wanting to collect ang pow before the Chinese New Year and the fires might be a message before they go around collecting.”

Yesterday, several uniformed policemen were on foot patrol around the main town centre of SS2 while traffic policemen rode around the township keeping an eye on the shops.

One of them said the team was on “high gear” to track down the culprits.

Petaling Jaya OCPD Asst Comm Arjunaidi Mohamed said his men were working round-the-clock to apprehend the culprits.

“We will get them. We hope the public can provide us information such as the description of suspicious-looking people seen in the area, car registration numbers or even the colour of the culprit’s shirt or shoes. Any information can help us nab them,” he said.

Those with information on the case can call the Petaling Jaya police department at 03-7966 2222.

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