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Tuesday November 21, 2006

A very well-planned job

PENANG: Two container trailers driven by men in Rela uniform did not raise any suspicion when they arrived at the MASKargo Complex in Batu Maung here at 2.15am yesterday.  

The “Rela personnel” told the two Customs officers manning the checkpoint that they were there to flush out illegal workers and instructed them not to alert the people inside the complex. 

PAINFUL ENCOUNTER: Kumar showing his badly bruised knee – the result of a beating by the microchip robbers.
Once the “Trojan horses” were in the complex, the four bogus Rela men opened the doors of the containers and out leapt more than 20 robbers armed with parang

The first thing they did was to round up the 17 people in the area, including the two Customs officers and two Malaysia Airport Bhd personnel. 

To neutralise the threat of a fight-back, the robbers plied their captives with chloroform. Some were forced to drink a white solution which caused them to vomit. Anyone still standing was beaten with sticks. 

With the workers under guard, the rest of the robbers set to work on the microchips. 

In just an hour, they piled 585 cartons and 18 pallets of microchips and motherboards manufactured by a multi-national company in Bayan Lepas into the containers.  

The loot estimated to be worth US$12.7mil (RM46.99mil) was said to be the country’s biggest ever heist. And arguably the most audacious, too. 

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was in Putrajaya, was livid when informed of the robbery. The Prime Minister was very angry over the lack of security. 

Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon who inspected the complex later in the evening said two suspects had been arrested but declined to give details.  

It is learnt that the suspects were workers at the complex. 

State police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Koh Hong Sun told a press conference that police got a call at 3.40am. 

“The robbers also took with them footage of the robbery from the closed-circuit TV cameras,” he said. 

DCP Koh said the victims were not seriously injured and all have been discharged after treatment at the Penang Hospital. 

One of the victims was the driver of a courier company van, who showed up at the complex while the robbery was in progress. 

The 25-year-old driver, who wanted to be known only as Kumar, said two men in green uniforms complete with berets at the checkpoint ordered him to get out of his van.  

CRIME SCENE: A police officer speaking to some people at the MASKargo Complex in Batu Maung, Penang, yesterday after computer chips worth RM47mil were stolen.
“I was a bit slow in getting down and one of them suddenly smashed my windscreen with his baton. They then dragged me out and beat me up. 

“They did not sound local ... most probably from out of state,” he said at the hospital. 

A source said the first of several batches of the computer chips was delivered to the warehouse on Saturday. The last shipment was at 12.30am yesterday.  

The consignment was to be sent to the multi-national company’s operations in the Asia-Pacific region, including Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. 

The source said all indications pointed to an inside job.  

“The timing was too good. Such information could only be obtained if someone on the inside was working with them,” said the source. 

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Need for cargo tracking system
Abdullah wants to know if robbery is an inside job


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