PETALING JAYA: When confronting snatch thieves, muggers or other criminals, take care of your safety first, experts suggest.
If one chooses to retaliate, it is important to avoid doing anything rash, they said.
Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation vice-president Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said it was important to take circumstances into account when caught in tense situations.
“What is most important is consideration of your safety,” he said.
“Assess the risk and apply common sense. If you are able bodied and think that the timing is right to retaliate and overpower the criminal, then it is the right thing to do.
“It is not advisable, for example, if you are attacked by a group or the attackers are armed,” said Lee in an interview.
Bar Council chairman Lim Chee Wee said the public was entitled to use reasonable force when carrying out citizen's arrests.
“Section 27 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides for suspects nabbed by public citizens to be brought to a police officer as soon as possible and without unnecessary delay,” he said.
Lim, however, warned not to use excessive force on the criminal.
“You could find yourself liable for assault and battery.
“What is excessive' would depend on the circumstances of the case,” he said.
Malaysian Karate Federation (Makaf) secretary-general Vincent Chen said even if one knew martial arts, “flight is better than fight”.
“The first motto of karate is never hit first',” Chen said.
“It is always better to avoid rather than confront.
“Only use karate if it is absolutely necessary; if you are forced to fight.”
Chen stressed the importance of remaining alert at all times.
“Most criminals live unhealthy lifestyles. They smoke, drink, and sleep late,” he said.
“If you maintain a healthy lifestyle, you might be able to outrun them. And always take precautions.
“For example, if you're going to a car park late at night, get someone to accompany you.”
Cyber NGO Malaysians Against Rape, Assault and Snatch (Marah) founder Dave Avran said he would not recommend people to fight back, unless they had been trained for combat.
He added that if confronted, “a good idea is to throw your wallet a distance away from the robbers and flee when they are retrieving it”.
“The main motive should be self-preservation. You can always buy another iPhone. You can always get a new driver's licence. What's important is to take care of your life.”