As you may have heard, I recently got robbed. You’ve heard me say it plenty of times, JB is a crime infested city. It’s reported in the news, it’s happened to people I know, and now it’s happened to me personally. If any of you had any doubts as to whether violent crime in JB really is as bad as they say, I hope that my having experienced violent crime firsthand removes any lingering scepticism.
The irony of it is that just a few hours before the incident happened, I posted a comment to this post that in my one year here, I hadn’t personally been the victim of any violent crime. And no safety precautions or alertness on my part could have prevented it. Here’s how it happened…
At around 2.30am on 20 Jan 2007 (Saturday), I was awoken by pounding on the room doors and the shouting of the landlady aunties. I put on my specs and switched on the light, and as I grabbed the door handle two guys burst into the room. One of them was wielding a 2 or 3 foot long machete.
In a split second, I conciously made a decision: I didn’t know how many robbers there were or whether the aunties were safe. So I decided to act terrified and completely cooperative.
The robbers rushed into the room, the back one switching off the light immediately. The machete robber pushed me backwards onto the bed and hovered over me, holding the big knife threateningly. He demanded “Mana dompet? Keluarkan dompet!” to which I complied.
The wallet was in the cupboard, in a pair of trousers that were hung up. But I couldn’t find WHICH pair! The robber got impatient and hit me in the face, bending the nose-rest of my specs a bit, more to intimidate than to injure. (The specs didn’t break – I often pray that they won’t break or be damaged as I’m washing them, you know.)
Later when I searched through the trousers, I couldn’t find my wallet, so they must have gotten the right pair somehow. But at that time, I couldn’t find it, and babbled to them to just take the laptop. They already had, and shortly later they disappeared as the house alarm blared.
I followed shortly after, carefully, half hoping I could stop them. But they were gone. The aunties came out of their room when it was all clear, the robbers having not enough time to rob them. The police were called, and a patrol car came – too late to do anything, of course.
We were to find out that the robbers had broken in throught the back door, ripping the entire metal grill off its hinges and exposing the nails. They had also unscrewed the newly-installed lights, making the back area of the compund dark. To escape, they had taken the ladder that was kept in the landlady’s hosue and used it to scale the 2+ metre high side wall to the grassy lane behind.
I called Anne, and then my dad. Going through my stuff, I found that the robbers had taken a bunch of things – basically whatever they could grab from the small table in my room. My wallet, the laptop with mouse (but without the earphones or power cable), the watch Anne gave me as a special gift.
They also took odd things like my 7-year old big Bible in its torn cover (my dad thinks may be for jampi purposes or superstition), a battery-powered electric toothbrush that they dropped in the garden, and even a Nokia charger they unplugged from the power socket! Really whatever they could grab.
Thanks in part to my acting cowardly and subservient, I was uninjured. But that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. Now and then I feel angry at the whole thing, if only things had been slightly different. But I guess the most important thing is that everyone is safe, and nothing serious happened.
The landlady has gotten an armed guard, and will hire a guard dog later. I’ve decided to move out to Yu Pei’s apartment. The timing is just nice as Angeline Lye is moving out to KL.
I was torn between moving and staying – I had originally chosen not to move into the apartment partly to protect the aunties and provide some income for them thru rent. But well, I’ve fulfilled those duties – I protected them from even having to meet the robbers, and some of my possessions have been sacrificed instead of their possessions. Besides, my protection is not needed with the guard around.
I am quite convinced that it was an inside job. For the week before the robbery, the landlady had hired two men to renovate the inside of the house. They had full access to the rooms, able to see and take note of every corner.
The workmen were 2 guys about my height, skinny, dark complexioned and spoke Malay/Indonesian… As the robbers were.
The workmen had recently installed the new lights. The robbers knew that those lights could be easily unscrewed noiselessly to turn them off.
The workmen had fixed up the house and had seen my laptop before. The robbers had traversed the whole house in the dark, were breaking down the doors (the handle got spoilt), and had turned off the light switch in my room immediately as they entered the room. Maybe it was easy to find the switch? But still…
And the kicker is that the robbers apparently came from the front, climbing over the gate. But they left from the side, over a 2+ metre high wall with glass shards stuck into the top. They took a ladder that was kept inside the house, broke the glass, took a rubber mat that was hanging on the washing line behind the house, and climbed over to the dark path that runs parallel to the KTM tracks.
You tell me how complete strangers would plan to come from the front with barking dogs and neighbors awoken by the alarm, but leave over the high side wall by using a ladder THAT WAS KEPT INSIDE THE HOUSE and escaping by the quiet, dark backlane.
Now those were either very quick-thinking, professional and smart criminals… Or they had inside information. The timing of the house-breaking and robbery just after the renovations is too coincidental.
But whatever the circumstantial evidence, I have no solid proof. The landlady is for some reason adamant that it couldn’t be the workmen, who were recommended by her friend (she doesn’t know them personally though). Thus another reason I want to move out – I am not at ease with any more unaccountable people coming into the house to fix things. If anything happens, there is no one to be held responsible.
The police, of course, can’t do much. As they said, the area is infamous for break-ins. The inspector who noted my case put it this way: “Lebih kurang setiap hari” there was a robbery. Blame the drug addicts frequenting the KTM tracks as is the norm.
So with the human impossibility of bringing the perpatrators to justice, of even being safe in my own house… I can only rely on MY GOD.
“It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.” (Deuteronomy 32:35) It is not my place to seek revenge upon my persecutors. My God of justice and righteousness, who knows every man’s doings and thoughts will deal with them as He sees fit and in His time.
“He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior.” (Psalm 24: 4-5) I await my vindication, o LORD – set my heart at ease.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 All my trust is in You, o LORD. Who else can I turn to when everything man can do seems hopeless? I await the revelation of Your reason for this happening, and Your will for me from here on.
What would I do if I didn’t have an Almighty God watching out for me? Who protected me in time of danger… Who will provide for me, both my physical needs and my longing for justice to be done… Who gives me the peace of assurance that He is totally in charge, regardless of how anonymous the criminals seem to be.
I like Singapore more than ever now, where it’s safe to walk on the streets at night, and crime is actually solved when it happens. But what substance am I made of, to just cut and run when things aren’t going well? Now, more than ever, I want to change things around here for the better. To have the influence and authority to make a real difference.
Simple, achievable steps like increasing the police force in general. Reducing the number of traffic police checking parking tickets. Increasing police salaries substantially, especially for the lowest paid. Having regular night patrols to make it much harder for criminals to get away scot-free. Being extremely tough on bribery, corruption, laziness, cronyism and apathy or unwillingness to arrest if you feel a kinship with the accused.
Friends, I hope that wherever you are, you can remain safe. JB may be a terribly unsafe place, but the rest of Malaysia is going down the same dark road. I’m glad in a way that it was me who was affected, instead of any of the girls.
Now I’ve experienced armed robbery once, I’m more prepared if it were to happen again. I’m taking my own advice that I give to girls coming to work in JB – stay in an apartment with guards, not a landed property! All the cases I hear about – rape, house-breaking, murder – happen at landed houses, not apartments. And note, make a police report IMMEDIATELY after the crime, so they will come and collect evidence, or they may not bother the next morning.
To everyone who called and smsed, thank you for your support and concern. I’m unhurt and not badly shaken, just a bit poorer and bothersome to settle all the ID cards.
And especially to my dearest Anne, thank you so much for being by my side and supporting me throughout. You helped me through a very tough time, and have helped me get back to normal. I am so grateful for your love.
And to my God, I acknowledge that everything is in Your hands. Whatever has come or may come, I will trust in You for everything and praise Your mighty name. Amen.