Johor police ask residents to keep an eye on vacant houses

JOHOR BARU: Residents with neighbours stranded in Singapore due to the Covid-19 pandemic travel restrictions have been reminded to help to keep an eye on the empty houses.

A two-storey house in Jalan Ungku Aziz, Kim Teng Park here was broken into after its tenants did not return from Singapore since the movement control order (MCO) was enforced in March.

One of the co-owners of the semi-detached house, Chong Siew Nyin, said he found the front door ajar when he came by to check on the unit after lunch a few weeks ago.

“Inside the house, I found the tenants’ strewn belongings and realised that the house had been broken into,” the 46-year-old said at a press conference called by Stulang assemblyman Andrew Cheng.

Chong said the house has six tenants and all of them used to commute between Johor Baru and Singapore daily for work before the MCO.

Since his tenants were still stranded across the border, he said he usually checked on the house once a week and to collect the utility bills.

He believed that the burglars had targeted the house after noticing that no one was at home for a long period of time before making their move.

“I immediately notified my tenants via our WhatsApp group and took photos and videos of the scene.

“Based on this, they said their stolen valuables included jewellery, laptop, smartphones, camera and money, worth thousands of ringgit,” he said.

Chong hoped the police would increase patrols in the area.

He said he was also considering installing CCTV cameras at the house.

Cheng said social problems such as burglary and snatch theft stemmed from financial difficulties, as people were losing their jobs due to the pandemic.

He said while the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) have been put in place to allow limited numbers of cross border travel for essential business and official purposes between both countries, many Malaysians working in the island republic were still not allowed to return home.

“This creates an opportunity for robbers to target houses left empty for a long period of time.“Kim Teng Park is generally a quiet area populated by senior citizens. I want to also remind other residents to be alert on the matter,” he said.

Johor Baru South OCPD Asst Comm Padzli Mohd Zain said a team of officers who went to the house on receiving the police report found no signs of forced entry through the front gate and front door.

“We are in the midst of contacting the tenants affected to identify their missing items and assist them in lodging a police report.

“The public and neighbours can play a part in keeping their housing area safe by channelling information to the authorities on any suspicious activities,” he said, adding that patrol would be increased in the area.

ACP Padzli said the case was being investigated under Section 457 of the Penal Code for burglary and urged the public with any information relating to the case to contact the Johor Baru South police headquarters hotline at 07-218 2323.

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