First-hand account of encounter with a snatch thief


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 17 Jun 2004

The Star's assistant news editor, Lourdes Charles, a veteran crime reporter, has had the experience of dealing with a snatch thief, though not as a victim. He relates the story 

AT ABOUT 2.45pm outside the EON Bank in Taipan USJ, a lawyer who had just withdrawn RM9,000 had her handbag containing the money and personal documents snatched away by a man. 

My brother-in-law David Lawrence, my sister Janet and I were in a car when we heard a woman and several men shouting for help and saw several people in a Maxis hatchback chasing a man clutching a handbag.  

Realising that the man was a thief, David and I joined others in going after him. He was dressed in a blue-and-white chequered long-sleeved shirt, jeans and track shoes. 

We saw the thief entering a slip road between two rows of houses to avoid being spotted along the main road. 

True to what I had suspected, the man had changed clothes on the run, and this time we noticed that he was wearing a blue denim shirt. 

Once again he fled when he saw David and me running after him.  

I then contacted the police who promptly sent a patrol car to search the area. 

We suspected that the thief was hiding in a house being renovated. 

We went there together with several others and asked some Indonesian workers if they had seen a suspicious-looking man enter the house but they said no. 

However, a man in our group who was suspicious entered the house and came out with a pair of jeans and a blue-and-white chequered shirt and a pair of track shoes. 

We recognised the attire and knew that the thief was inside. I took the clothes and found in them an Indonesian passport, two wallets and a cellular phone with a missed call. 

One of the Indonesian workers later told us that his shorts and singlets were missing.I dialled the missed call but no one answered.  

As we were inspecting the attire, a car stopped beside us and out came two men claiming to be detectives. 

As I have been covering the police beat for more than 15 years and know most of the police officers, I was suspicious of them and asked them some questions relating to the Selangor police force. 

One of them gave me some evasive answers and took the passport and cellular phone. 

He was scrolling through the phone when David spoke in Tamil to the victim, who had just joined us, not to allow him to take possession of the items. 

The two “detectives” then backed off to their car and sped off. 

Suspecting something amiss, I and two other men decided to follow them and after a short distance noticed them searching for something in a monsoon drain across the road. 

This went on for quite a while before we decided to head back to the house where we related to the others what we saw. 

The victim’s fiancé then decided to search the drains nearby and after about 20 minutes he yelled out that he had found her handbag. 

I then called the acting Selangor CID chief, Asst Comm Karn Kam Peng, who immediately diverted several serious crimes officers on special rounds to meet me at the USJ 8 police station to get further details. 

I handed over to them the passport, cellular phone and wallets before lodging a report. 

Lucky for the lawyer, she only sustained a sprained ankle, bruised shoulder and ache all over as a result of the fall caused by the snatch thief.  

She not only got back her valuables and belongings, but more importantly she did not suffer serious injuries.  

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