MONEYCHANGERS in Ipoh are reeling in shock after one of them was robbed of RM2mil in foreign currencies.
The 6.45pm incident in Jalan Mustapha Al Bakri saw three masked men armed with fake pistols burst into the outlet as it was about to close and held up an armed security guard before emptying out its safe.
The robbery has shaken up others in the business.
Dinar Harta Sdn Bhd compliance officer Sulaiman Maidin said such cases were unheard of in Ipoh.
“You hear of goldsmith shops being robbed but never moneychangers.
“This has got to be the biggest heist at a moneychanger outlet in Ipoh so far.
“Those behind the crime would have watched the outlet very closely for a long time. How would the robbers know that the outlet is a dealer or wholesaler for foreign currencies and that a batch of currencies had just been delivered that day?” said Sulaiman.
Being a close-knit community, those in the same business know each other well, he said.
“More than being shocked at hearing the news, we were very concerned that someone could have gotten hurt,” he added.
According to Sulaiman, it is not easy to rob a moneychanger outlet especially with safety features such as tempered glass and reinforced steel doors put in place.
“There is nothing much they (the robbers) can do when we are behind the counter, so the robbers would have bided their time for the opportunity,” he said.
Since the incident, Sulaiman said he and the other staff at the outlet in Jalan Yang Kalsom were extra vigilant when opening doors for business and when closing shop.
“We are scared and worried. We try our best to be careful but there is really no saying when something like this will happen,” he said.
Not willing to take any risks, Abdul Manaf Nordin cuts down his outlet’s opening hours.
“I used to work till 6.30pm but since the robbery, I’ve been closing shop earlier, when it gets extremely quiet around here.
“It is better to be safe than sorry,” said the 44-year-old owner of Maju MC Sdn Bhd in Jalan Sultan Idris Shah.
Abdul Manaf, who was a victim of an attempted robbery transporting foreign currencies from Kuala Lumpur some years back when there were no dealers yet in Ipoh, said those in the business understood the risks of running this type of business and were prepared for it.
“But, it is indeed worrying and scary when something bad like this actually happened.
“After the robbery, several of us moneychangers are considering hiring security guards and looking around for the right firm to do the job.
“Our concern is that most guards provided by security firms are unfit for the job. Some are old and untrained, how are they supposed to fend off robbers?” he asked.
Emma Sulaiman, who manages Remit Master situated along the same road, said news of the robbery had put her employees on edge.
“They have already been taught what to do in the event of such incidents but it is understandably human nature to be afraid.
“And so, I have to step up on our briefing sessions and pep talks to try to alleviate their fears,” she said.