Monday, 16 April 2012 16:51
S’pore PR family describes horror of how JB home was looted
He had just arrived at work yesterday morning when his mother called. Their family had been robbed.
They were held hostage in their own home in Taman Pelangi, Johor Bahru, for one hour, just after midnight, his mother said in between sobs.
The robbers made off with about $20,000 worth of goods, $4,000 cash and two of the family’s cars
Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt.
“We are so ‘light’ now. We have no wallet, no IC, no driving licence,” said the mother of Singapore permanent resident Kevin Lee, 28, who only wanted to be known as Mrs Lee, 55.
The ordeal began when Mr Lee’s father, 60, had taken out the rubbish and was about to clean the windscreen of his daughter’s Toyota Vios, parked just in front of the house.
That was when he spotted the two men approaching leisurely. They were wearing collared shirts. One even had a tie.
Just people coming home from work, he thought.
Until he felt somebody clamp his left hand.
He turned and another man grabbed his other arm, pulling him towards the house.
Said the senior Mr Lee: “They shouted at me to get in. I said, ‘Let’s settle this outside,’ and even deliberately fell in the garden to try to stop them.”
But they hauled him up.
Mrs Lee and her god-sister were watching TV when the family’s pomeranian-shih tzu crossbred dog began barking.
Looking up, she saw the two skinny men in their 20s approach with her husband, one of them with an arm around Mr Lee’s neck.
Said Mrs Lee: “I knew it was trouble. My god-sister panicked and fled to the kitchen; I called for her to give them the money.”
Her god-sister had just received 5,000 ringgit ($2,000) the day before.
But the robbers were not satisfied and taped the family’s mouths and wrists with black duct tape before ordering them into the airwell.
Said Mrs Lee: “I instantly scooped up the dog and put him into the sink there.
“One of the men, wielding a parang, said, ‘If you don’t make the dog shut up, I’ll hack him.’”
He then stood watch by the airwell’s entrance.
Just then, a third man wearing a ski mask and carrying a parang appeared.
The family said he seemed to be the ringleader as he gave instructions to the other two, who smelt of liquor and appeared to be on drugs.
The men began ransacking the rooms in their three-bedroom terrace house, starting from the innermost one, which belongs to her 31-year-old daughter, who got home 15 minutes into the ordeal.
Miss Lee said she was greeted at the door by a man with a knife.
“So you’re back. Go in,” she recalled him saying. “I was freaking out. I didn’t know what happened to my parents.”
He then took her bag, though she managed to retrieve a mobile phone.
Trembling in the airwell, her wrists taped, Miss Lee SMSed a cousin on the sly: “Call the police. We’re getting robbed.”
Ten minutes later, she tried the friend who had just dropped her off.
Five minutes passed before the robbers had another demand: Pointing at Miss Lee, they asked her to step outside.
Mrs Lee said her knees buckled when her daughter was singled out.
She said: “I was thinking the worst, and kept shouting no.”
Mr Lee, too, resisted, and was slapped on the cheek. He was gagged with a towel that was hanging next to the sink.
The robbers then chose to focus on the family’s belongings.
“We’re looking for money, we’re not going to kill you,” the robbers allegedly shouted, thrice asking Mrs Lee to reveal where she kept money.
Whatever she had she kept in her bags, she replied.
So the robbers took every bag in the house.
Mrs Lee estimates she lost almost 10 luxury-brand bags.
Most of them had sentimental value.
They included her first-ever designer bag bought by her husband in Hong Kong and two Louis Vuitton bags from her sister, one of which was for her 50th birthday.
The robbers plundered indisciminately, stealing the family’s three-month-old, 42-inch flat-screen TV, two bottles of 21-year-old whiskey, expensive cameras and also work documents and facial masks.
They then re-taped the family’s wrists, further securing Miss Lee’s wrists to the window sill with a belt and tying Mr Lee’s to the airwell’s door handle with a dog leash.
The robbers loaded their loot into Mrs Lee’s Toyota Camry in the driveway and left, making off with Mr Lee’s Nissan X-Trail SUV as well.
The family could only call the police after they had wriggled free of the tape.
Miss Lee said the police arrived at 2am to take statements from the victims and again at 3am to photograph the scene and dust for fingerprints.
The family said they have always been cautious.
Mrs Lee said she often told her children not to return home late, and even at 10pm, she would call to check on them.
While the Malaysian family has lived in the house for 30 years, Miss Lee and Mr Kevin Lee studied in Singapore from primary school till their tertiary education.
Mr Kevin Lee lives and works in Singapore as a marketing manager.
He bought a two-bedroom Punggol condominium unit last year and has a Singaporean girlfriend of five years.
The family said it was the third time the house had been broken into.
The first attempt occured about 15 years ago; the subsequent attempt was about five years back, when Miss Lee returned to see drawers upended and a “hole in the roof”.
Said Mr Kevin Lee: “Previously, robbers used to come when the owners were not at home. They’re getting bolder.”