I think is fair to say that most of us have experienced car break-ins or knew of someone who had fell victim to it at one point of our lives. So why is it that we still leave our valuables in the car knowing that we run a risk of losing it? Read on to find out more...
THE last thing you want to worry about after signing up for a marathon is where to park your car on race day.
It might sound inconsequential but for experienced runners, it is an issue.
Parking lots are usually very quiet at about 4am and you would be able to find a handful of runners warming up around their cars.
The writer went on a morning run with a group of runners. But before we got started one of them asked if I had anything expensive in the car as it might attract thieves.
At 6am? Who would have thought that a car parked adjacent to the Bukit Aman police headquarters would be unsafe.
Breaking into a car at that hour is easy as the thieves not only have accomplices with them, they also know how long it takes a jogger to return to his car.
On weekends when there are competitions, participants park their cars just about anywhere, not realising that they are being watched.
In September last year, IT executive Victor Chong fell victim to thieves who broke the rear window of his car to open the door.
Chong said they took his wallet which contained his personal documents in the 7am incident.
His mistake was to leave his valuables in a bag which was easily spotted by prowling thieves.
“Now I don’t do that anymore, I just take whatever I need with me and leave nothing expensive in the car,” said Chong, who still frequents the park.
Another victim Chia Chun Kai, who lost a handphone and some money, said the thief got into his car by breaking the lock.
“I am usually at Taman Permaisuri park in Cheras from 6.30am to about 9am. The culprit must have noticed that I usually arrive and leave about the same time,” said Chia who did not lodge a police report because the thieves did not take his identity card and driving licence.
He did not blame the police as he felt they could not be patrolling every corner as cars were usually parked everywhere on competition days.
“Leave nothing valuable inside the car. Car pool to minimise the risk or ask someone to drop you at the venue,” said Chia, 29.
Another victim who parks her car at the Taman Aman carpark in Petaling Jaya before boarding a train at the nearby LRT station to go to work, said she did not notice anything different about her car when she returned to the carpark after work.
“However, a good samaritan had left a huge note on my windscreen alerting me of my car’s missing tyres,” she said.
It read “Please be careful, I think someone has stolen your tyres”.
Only then did she realise that the front and back tyres on the passenger side were missing.
She was shocked and did not know what to do but was grateful to the residents living across the street who came to assist her.
“I don’t leave expensive gadgets in the car because I don’t want to attract thieves but I never thought they will steal my tyres,” she said.
Another runner Lai Fong Sang who patronises the KLCC park and Lake Gardens said he would avoid parking his car at isolated or quiet areas.
“I usually park at places where there are people around most of the time to avoid car thieves,” said Lai.
He suggested that run organisers station guards in future to keep an eye on cars parked in the area until the race was over.
Pacesetters Athletic Club Malaysia president Rustam Affandi Zaihan said he had experienced two car break-ins during two events organised by the club — one in Serdang and the other in Bukit Kiara last year.
Rustam said over 20 cars parked along the road had their windows smashed and valuables taken.
“There are always break-ins at our running events but we are still constantly advising participants not to leave anything expensive in their cars and also not to park far away or in secluded spots,” said Rustam.
He believes there is a syndicate targeting big running events which are publicised in the media.
However, he added that the number of break-ins had dropped during the club’s recent events as they were now working closely with the police.
The lead coordinator for the Original Bootcamp (KL and PJ) Simran Abdul Latif said his clients too were victims of car break-ins as their classes were conducted as early as 5.45am.
“We always advise our clients not to leave valuables in their car and also to park closer to the field where the activities are held,” said Simran, 27.
He said so far there were only about four known break-ins but hoped there would be fewer such incidents especially with the police patrolling the area whenever the group has its training at Padang Astaka, Petaling Jaya.
“We have informed the police about those incidents and they have come to patrol whenever we have classes,” said Simran.
He also hopes that the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) could light up the carpark area to deter would-be thieves.
A frequent jogger, Tan Say Kiat whose friend was also a victim once, shared with StarMetro a method used by residents in his neighbourhood, which he found simple yet effective.
Tan, who goes to Taman Aman for his morning runs, said he was stopped once while in the midst of trying to find an empty bay to park his car.
“A man stopped my car and asked me why was I making so many rounds in the area at that hour. He thought I was up to no good,” said Tan, who then found out the man was a member of a team on patrol duty that morning.
Although Tan said he was caught by surprise, at least now he felt safer when he running in the park.
Taman Paramount Section 20A RT chairman Cassian Baptist said they formed a voluntary patrolling team two years ago in the hope of curbing crimes in the area.
The volunteers patrol the area twice a day on their bikes — as early as 7am in the morning and another round later in the evening.
“We patrol daily and we know who lives in the area. When the team spots a suspicious vehicle we will take the plate number down and report it to the SS2 police station with whom we work closely with,” said Baptist, 47.
Of late, police officers from the station have also also lend a hand to the group by patrolling the area frequently and making rounds at quiet spots around the fairly large park.