ISKANDAR PUTERI: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has arrested 11 foreigners for committing thefts within the country's waters.
State director First Admiral (Maritime) Aminuddin Abdul Rashid said the foreigners, believed to be Indonesians, were detained on two separate occasions between 10.20pm on Thursday (May 30) and 1.30am on Friday (May 31).
"In the first incident, we arrested six individuals and seized two sampan after they stole items from a vessel that was waiting to be towed, 3.2 nautical miles southwest of Pulau Kukup.
"In the second incident, we also seized two sampan and detained five suspects for stealing from a barge 2.3 nautical miles of Pulau Kukup," he said in a press conference here on Friday (May 31).
Aminuddin said the suspects, aged between 16 and 30, were from different groups but their modus operandi was the same.
He added that these groups would normally target slow moving vessels with low freeboard such as barges as it was an easy target for them.
"They want to avoid confrontations with the crewmen and always prefer stealing items from vessels with no crew," he said, adding that these groups would steal items such as scrap metal or anything they could find that could be sold.
Aminuddin pointed out that even though the value of the items they had stolen was low, their actions could lead to fear among vessels passing the Straits of Malacca.
He added that these groups were not pirates as the latter were systematic in their attacks and would always target ships with higher value.
"Ships that pass through this route have been advised to always be vigilant and take precautionary safety measures. They must also always turn on their ship's Automatic Identification System (AIS)," he said.
The case was being investigated under Section 379 of the Penal Code for thefts.