Niki Cheong is blogging

How to solve our snatch theft problems

I was at The Annexe Gallery in Central Market for the second edition of PopIn: PopOut – Social Ideas Challenge. The people behind PopIn is organising this as a way to “collate the wealth of ideas generated everyday by every-day people, and to put good ideas forward to be used for the betterment of society.”

Yesterday, four young Malaysians got together to take on different issues including Gated Communities, Slogans and Making Malaysia Truly Gemilang. My topic (we were sent a list about two weeks ago and we selected it based on “siapa cepat, dia dapat”) was Snatch Theft.

Here is the brief:

Chances are we all know of someone close to us who has been a victim of snatch-theft. A growing problem in Malaysia, some instances of snatch theft have caused fatalities, when the person holding onto the handbag has been dragged by the motorbike, or through subsequent acts of violence.

Many attempts have been made to curb such crimes, and recently the police have proposed that snatch thieves be punished with social work like sweeping the streets to serve them a bitter lesson. Bukit Aman CID director Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Mohd Zinin went further and said the offenders should also wear posters that say “I am a snatch thief” to shame them so that they repent. The public on the other hand often blame the police for lack of enforcement.

Regardless, the problem remains unsolved and more people are being victimized. How do you propose a city like KL deal with such an issue?

I wanted to share my presentation here. The Prezi is below and I will elaborate in point form:

.prezi-player { width: 500px; } .prezi-player-links { text-align: center; }
  • I started off the presentation talking about my only encounter with snatch theft, when my mum fell victim just outside my house. Other than that, and what I read in the papers, I know little else of it. So I turned to Wikipedia. Note how Malaysia is identified specifically (which I thought was funny, but also utter rubbish).
  • Then I shared some the response by some people who have been victims, or know of people who have been, which I sourced via Twitter.
  • I went back to the Wikipedia definition and picked out key words, from which I devised my ideas. I had six “solutions”.
  1. Leave the country: Since it has been identified as a Malaysian problem, one quick solution is to leave the country. I also suggested 2Malaysia – one for the rich, and the other for the poor (you know, get an island, chuck all the poor people there, that kind of thing). Lastly, I thought that since the authorities had suggested brilliant ideas like public humiliation and er, sweeping the streets the perpetrators snatched from, why not go further? We’ll march them towards a bonfire (wearing those signs) and make them walk into it – ala witch hunt style. The only people who get “invites” to this “show” are the victims, who can celebrate by throwing their handbags into the fire as well.
  2. Unagi: I shared that video from F.R.I.E.N.D.S where Ross speaks about Unagi – “the state of constant awareness”. I was thinking what else could pedestrians do other than follow common sense: walk under the light, avoid dark alleys etc. But these don’t always work. If they had “Unagi” then they might be able to sense when they are about to be attached. For this, I suggested – as a long term plan – that martial arts and self-defense classes be made compulsory in schools. This way, no only will they be able to defend themselves in the future, but because they have skills on fighting back etc, this might deter the perpetrators to stay away from them.
  3. Ban motorcycles: Enough said.
  4. Don’t carry handbags: This is a common enough suggestion. Don’t wear too much blings to attract attention, don’t carry big handbags, or worse, wristlets that just dangle from your hand. Carry wallets or small purses, or keep things in your pocks.
  5. Help our cops: Well, obviously our cops need help – otherwise, there wouldn’t be much of a problem anyway. I suggested that we help out cops (there are a lot of areas they need help with) by installing CCTV cameras all around the city which have proven to work in reducing crime. Not only does this deter the perpetrators, it also helps us identify them. A lot of the time, victims can’t identify who snatched from them and therefore, they remain prowling the streets for their next victim.
  6. Take justice in your own hand: I know a lot of guys out there have dreams of becoming Hit Girl but the vigilante method isn’t the smartest thing to do. I suggest using social media to help identify the common spots where these incidents occur. As example, we can have a blog to mark these areas – similar to this and this. Otherwise, why not us Twitter? I proposed that all snatch theft incidents be tweeted out using the #KLragut hashtag. This will help three ways:
  • Help people who move around these areas be aware of the incidences so they will be more alert.
  • Identify the spots for the cops so that they can add patrol (whether in uniform or plain-clothed).
  • Keep the perpetrators away because the spot has already been identified, people are more alerts and hopefully, more police presence as well.

Of course, these are all very micro and specific “solutions”. I also spoke about how we need to look at the bigger picture – all of the above together – and consider the root of the problem. The authorities need to identify these people, profile them and find out what is it that is leading them to do this. Is it the thrill? Is it the issue of poverty? Is it an urban poor issue? Could it be because of the lack of public places?

I have to add a disclaimer here as well. My solutions are not all practical, and some are obviously in jest. The speakers were told that while we want to get ideas going, we shouldn’t confine ourselves to practicality. I say this because, er, most people only picked up on my suggestion to Leave The Country which, if you look at my presentation, I actually note that it should not be an option.

The whole idea of the Social Ideas Challenge is to get conversations started and get ideas flowing. I’d love to hear if you guys have any suggestions or ideas as well.

9.14am Malaysian time (+8 GMT)

Discussion (16)

There are 16 responses to “How to solve our snatch theft problems”.

  1. personally, i think the idea of reporting to police after falling as a victim of snatch theft is mainly to get the report of lost items, in order to get their ICs and license done. i’m not sure if the police actually do anything to follow up with the report. maybe snatch thieves have become such a common crime, like another cup of teh-tarik at breakfast to them.

    case 1. my sister got robbed while stopping at a traffic light. reported to police. no follow up after that. in fact a goodbeing found her bag somewhere and called to her office.

    case 2: my housemate got robbed right in front of the house. went to report police, imagine what the police said when she reported her lost items, “Oh ada 30 ringgit saja, dia mesti rompak lagi”. maybe he’s trying to be funny, but not lo. still no follow up report from the police.

    how to proceed with all the snatch thieves report? i’m not sure. but somehow, whenever i saw a perut buncit policeman on patrol, i thought, hey man, i might be able to outrun the fella. tat is a serious thought.

  2. As if leaving the country will solve the problem! Hot Girl to the rescue, ops…Hit Girl, I mean…

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Niki Cheong and Loke Pohlin, vangeyzel. vangeyzel said: RT @nikicheong: On my blog: My presentation of ideas to deal with snatch theft in Malaysia, as presented at the @mypopin #sickl y'day […]

  4. But to punish these offenders you will first need to catch them. How do you catch them when they actually ‘ragut ang run’? I would like to know, have snatch thieves ever been caught before? As in those on motorbikes perhaps? They have a high chance of getting away.

    Oh yeah, 1Malaysia. Pfft~

  5. was following the discussion.. quite interesting..
    and i like the leave msia and 2Malaysia.. haha.. witty ideas are always interactive and fun! =P

  6. my friend handbag just get snatched last night when the two of us enjoying our dinner at a roadside restaurant….in split second that guy easily run away with his friend that waiting with motorbike…

    as what Dylan say, to punish, we need to catch first. But how to catch if we can’t even trace the theft. Its hard to identified the theft….your idea about CCTV and identifying ‘black area’ were great….at least somehow it make the theft think twice before trying to snatch.

    Other than that, somehow i think we need to create awareness and educate public on how to re-act when crime happen near us. Funny that even after i shout ‘PENCURI’ very loud; yet nobody re-act to that….the theft easily run away….no other car try to knock them or at least try to identified their physical appearance or follow them…

    On the other hand, the police should have routine patrol to look around public places. whats the point hiring the police just sitting down at police station to wait for victim making report….’prevention better than cure’ is always right…and to fight crime…enforcement should be strengthen

  7. count ashtaroth responded:

    · Reply

    Another method,use islamic law..cut off their hands so everyone will fear to do it…an a humiliation to them also

  8. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by nikicheong: On my blog: My presentation of ideas to deal with snatch theft in Malaysia, as presented at the @mypopin #sickl y’day

  9. K responded:

    · Reply

    The police should spend less time convoying big cars around town, hiding along highways to issue speeding tickets, etc. Time should be better spent patrolling the streets and actually solving real crimes. Priorities!!

  10. SAR responded:

    · Reply

    Everyone seems obsessed with solutions involving the police, prison, punishment etc. but nobody’s focusing on WHY these snatch thefts happen. Malaysia is wealthier now than 15 years ago, yet 15 years ago snatch thefts were unheard of, and we didn’t need guards or gates around our neighbourhoods.

    On the surface, we have advanced economically, yet this society is becoming more and more materialistic, self-absorbed and greedy. The snatch thefts have motorbikes so they’re obviously not poor or starving, yet they choose to rob.

    This phenomenon is more than just about poverty. The people in the kampungs are poorer, yet snatch thefts don’t happen much there…

  11. love the ideas. XD.. i very much agree with axiao’s last paragraph. they need to at least look healthy.

  12. […] suggestion on how to deal with the snatch theft problem in our country. If you missed it, you can read it here. Anyway, just looking at my presentation slides is one thing, now PopIn has released a video of my […]

  13. Dr tata responded:

    · Reply

    I love all your ideas..

  14. ramya shanmugam responded:

    · Reply

    we can impose harsh penalties on the culprit,increase the number of patrol car in high crime place,implement neighbourhood watch and highlight failed attempts in the media…

  15. anonymous responded:

    · Reply

    Short Term: I got an idea, install GPS tracking chips on all your personal belongings(the bag, purse, inside your cellphone case, inside the plastic case of your IC/passport). This way the dumb criminals will all get caught and even if the smart criminals ditch the stuff, he will leave a trail of breadcrumbs for authorities to pick up on.

    Long term: Let’s work on eradicating poverty. We all know that people only commit petty criminal acts like these because they are poor and desperate. Wherever there is poverty, crime follows.

    Things we can do:

    Set a minimum wage
    Encourage the growth of small businesses
    – this includes getting rid of quotas and bumi special interests. Make business loans cheap and available to anyone with a great business plan.
    Invest in education

  16. Chun Xing responded:

    · Reply

    One more solution – Don’t go outside your house. If you have to work, get an indoor job, online job for example.

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