Day 154 : Robbed in Kuala Lumpur

Let my misadventure be a warning to you when visiting Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The city is infested with petty crimes and safety is an illusion. I’ve visited KL many times and it’s one of my favourite place for a short holiday but during this trip, I get the feeling that people are out to rob foreigners all the time.

Tourist attraction operators charge foreigners more while locals get preferential rates, cab drivers persistently defy the rule to charge cab fares according to the meter and ask for exorbitant amounts, and the streets are breeding with snatch thieves. It’s daylight robbery on every level.

I never imagined I would encounter something like this but I was robbed of my HTC One X handphone which I got just slightly over a month ago. Here’s what happened…

My travel buddy, Ian, and I had dinner at the Cheras district and was by the roadside waiting for a cab to go to our next destination. He held on to my phone to figure out the address while I was a few steps ahead looking out for empty taxis. Out of nowhere, a bike with a driver and a rider appeared and snatched my phone from Ian.

I didn’t see it happen as Ian was behind me. According to him, the pillon rider, a fat Malay man stretched out his hand grabbed Ian’s hand before yanking the phone from him. I am just thankful my friend wasn’t hurt. Imagine if the man held on to his hand and dragged him along the road.

It was a harrowing experience. I couldn’t believe my ears when Ian related the snatch theft process. It being a new phone and losing my contacts notwithstanding, my heart aches for all those photos I’ve yet to extract to my computer. I lost quite a lot of photos taken during this trip. Bastards!

Without much that we can do, we flagged down a cab, told the driver our pedicament and asked him to send us to the nearest police station to make a report. I’m not sure if the driver didn’t know there was a police station in Cheras or that he wanted to earn more fare as he brought us to a station in the city centre. The ride was about 15 minutes. While making the report, the policeman told us there’s actually a police station in Cheras and we should’ve made the report there because even though we made the report at his station, he would still pass the case to the Cheras station to act upon. He said that the driver was just out to make a buck from us despite our misfortune.

If that was true, all I can say is I hope he can sleep well at night.

So I related the snatch-robbery on Facebook and to KL friends and a torrent of grievances about such crimes poured forth. A friend got his laptop snatched, another got his car broken into four times, yet another had his DSLR pulled off his shoulder, but the worst was the story of a lady who resisted the robbers from taking her bag and got her fingers slashed. She lost two of her digits in that incident.

After being victimised, we became very wary and jittery when we walked the streets of KL the next day. With the prevalence of petty crimes, KL has completely lost its appeal to me. Things used to be very affordable in the city and was a draw for me but that’s no longer true. Food was also no big deal now that prices have gone up and partying in KL is like watching grass grow. Topped off with this ugly robbery, I don’t think I would want to ever go back again.

Related Post : Kuala Lumpur – Watch Your Wallet


14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Leow
    Jun 05, 2012 @ 12:12:54

    That’s very scary! I’m gonna think twice (or more then 2x) about going KL…


    • Darren Ng
      Jun 05, 2012 @ 12:20:10

      it was rather unnerving. thankfully we weren’t harmed. my friend told me it’s common for the bike robbers to wield parangs when committing their heists.


  2. Wendy
    Jun 11, 2012 @ 14:50:39

    My handbag got snatched while having my breakfast along Jalan Dorasamy restorant in K.L. behind Sheraton Hotel just two days ago. All of my property including a gift from my husband after 15 yrs of marriage, the culprit just snatched it away in front of my eyes.
    I just couldn’t believe it. K.L. has been notified as an expensive place to go now for this reason. I have to replenished all my needy stuff which includes my identity card, passport, driving licence and many other stuff i needed in my daily life.
    I lost of words further to description how this could have happend to me!


    • Darren Ng
      Jun 12, 2012 @ 18:27:47

      thanks wendy for sharing your experience and add one more caution to ensuring the safety of our belongings… never leave anything on the table. sorry to hear about ur loss, especially ur 15th anniversary gift. i guess the only consolation to the shock is that at least we were unharmed. i couldn’t believe it when it happened to us too and i felt so much anger. let this be a reminder to be extra vigilant when in kuala lumpur or anywhere that we go to. hope everything is reinstated for you.


  3. ben yap
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 11:10:33

    sorry to hear your experience. Yes, KL is getting dangerous because some people are pure lazy to find for work but mostly are poor people. with the high inflation here and low salary, some resorted to snatching.


    • Darren Ng
      Jun 16, 2012 @ 13:21:33

      thanks for ur consolation and providing an insight to the possible causes of this increase in thievery. i do agree that the standard of living is definintely very high in KL now.


  4. Cahaya
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 13:20:06

    I take offense on this entry especially when you say things like the KL is infested with petty crime and daylight robbery at every level. Petty crimes can happen at any place – and although I sympathize with you, may I ask what were you doing in the cheras district so late out night (based on your entry saying that is happened after dinner) ? Some parts of cheras district can be like LA’s south central and you should have been more responsible especially walking in the streets. NEXT TIME please do more research before going to new places especially after dark ! So please don’t say things like KL is infested with crime – IT IS NOT. And anyway just to let you know, my mom was almost a victim of snatch theft (her necklace) in singapore while walking in a shopping complex, luckily she just escaped in the nick of time by ducking and my dad was nearby. The punk (who looked chinese to me) just cooly walked away as if nothing happened….I dont go around saying singapore is infested with petty crime just because of this !.


    • Darren Ng
      Aug 01, 2012 @ 01:53:12

      thanks for dropping by the post and leaving me a comment so that i can firther explain myself. first and foremost, i’ve always enjoyed KL and have been there numerous times. just like i’ve stayed in singapore for 38 years and visited bangkok more times than i have KL. no crimes ever happened to me in those 2 places but kl. when i shared my experience, FRIENDS LIVING IN KL claimed that the city is infested with petty crimes. even 2 of my colleagues FROM KL shared with me what happened to their kins at about the same time they knew what happened to me. perhaps i didn’t share that part that adds to my caution about the crime frequency in KL. if a place is safe, there’s NO NEED TO RESEARCH ON SAFETY ISSUES unless crime is prebvalent.

      It is great that you defend the safety of KL but having to mind one’s pressence in Cheras at 7pm is proof that it is not safe in KL. if it is safe, it shouldn’t matter what time or where you are in the city, you won’t be robbed. I am sorry to hear about the close robbery of your mum in singapore. i hope she is not too traumatised by the incident. it is ok if you think singapore is crime infested. frankly, it is the sum of opinions and not just your singular experience. it applies to my post here too. however, i am just wondering why is that the KL police and JB departments are linking private CCTVs to their police database if robberies and crimes are not an issue. please check with your local KL police departments on why they are increasing survelliance efforts.

      may i enlighten you on what KL police is doing because petty crime has increased without your willingness acknowledge it?


  5. Cahaya
    Aug 01, 2012 @ 12:27:38

    Actually Darren, I am not denying there is no crime (petty or othervice) in KL…there is. But I don’t agree the way you over generalize that KL is unsafe place and infested with crime. I know of countless visitors who come here and go without experiencing any crime whatsover – and infact they are impressed and appreciate the genuine hospitalility shown by most malaysians.
    Anyway here is a Reuteurs article on the scams and crimes in Bangkok –

    (I dont agree with the way this particular article is written as it puts down Bangkok and Thailand in the same way your blog posting puts down KL) – you should get my point.

    And finally – i think this is possibly the most lowest form of crime anywhere – but happening right in singapore – robbing from accident victims — how low can a petty criminal get ?

    Again this kind of thing can happen to anyone – anywhere – but it had happened in a highly prosperous and tightly controlled society like singapore – that is totally unexpected and possibly unforgivable. I rest my case.


    • Darren Ng
      Aug 10, 2012 @ 17:36:39

      likewise, i’m not saying there is no crime in Singapore or anywhere else. it is the PROBABILITY and FREQUENCY of it happening. u don’t have to agree with my opinion, i’m not asking u to in the first place. i’m merely stating my personal encounter with being snatched. but i’m also not basing my opinion just from my personal experience but from comments of my friends born and bred in KL who themselves claimed the place is infested with crime. one of them had his laptop snatched (broad daylight), and another had his car smashed and broken into 4 times and various locations.

      2 weeks after my snatch-theft misfortune, my colleague from KL went back for a visit over the weekend and her mum’s handbag got snatched right in front of her. during day time. that same weekend, another colleague shared that his uncle was slahsed and robbed at an atm. instead of defending KL from negative opinions, perhaps you should focus your energy to try and make things safer at home. it is great that you love KL to stand up for it, but don’t be a blind crusader. here’s the sentiments that people of KL are feeling…

      and i think you missed the other points i brought up about ‘daylight robbery’ in KL. it is not just the snatch-theft incident but the fact that many taxi drivers practice touting rather than the fair charging of conveyance by the meter; the taxi-driver taking me to a further police station to make a report rather than a closer one in cheras so that he can earn extra fare despite the distress we were in; and having to pay RM14 for a plate of mixed vegetable rice (1 piece of chicken, 2 vegetables and a drink) at KLCC foodcourt. if i had to pay S$14 for that plate of rice in Singapore, i would call that ‘daylight robbery’ too.

      and i’m glad u brought up the case of a person stealing from an accident victim. i totally agree that’s downright despicable and i don’t mind people then think singapore is unsafe due to that. what i do mind is what my government is doing about reinforcing social graces. let’s move pass petty and futile protests on people’s opinions and devote our energy into useful causes to improve a situation so that no one needs to have an unfavourable opinion of the place we love.

      i thank you for leaving a comment and stating your point of view. i am an avid traveller and had been to KL numerous times because it is near to Singapore so it doesn’t benefit me to strike it off my to-go list. but things really feel different now and i no longer feel it is safe with danger seemingly lurking at every corner.


  6. jean
    Oct 15, 2012 @ 18:02:21

    hi, if anyone ever does meet with a theft/robbery in singapore, report it to the police or security. the police and security are unlike those in malaysia who are in cahoots with the thieves/robbers. all crimes are taken very seriously in singapore and we have strong penalties in place. petty crimes are more often than not, committed by foreigners and they are usually easily frightened off if you create a scene at the point of crime. i have not heard of any crimes that involve guns and big knives (penknife maybe) in singapore. hope this helps.


  7. Hannah @ Getting Stamped
    Jan 20, 2014 @ 00:50:28

    I was just a victim of a snatch thief in Chinatown Kuala Lumpur…was on my phone just put it away in wristlet and he drove up on his bike and snatched it out of my hand….couldnt believe it!


  8. Leanne
    Aug 09, 2014 @ 17:38:45

    Gosh what a bad incident! I have been to KL a couple of times over the years and I find it is the one city where I am on red alert. This is what puts me off spending a few nights in KL for transit, it is exhausting having to be on guard for petty crime.


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