Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Crime - Cars Broken Into, In JB (2)

How Did Thieves Break Into Car? 
by Zaihan Md Yusof

HE'S the sort of driver who would "go the extra mile" to keep his car safe and secure.
Whenever Mr Abdul Rahman Majid, 49, parks his car, he makes sure that it's in an area with human traffic.
He also parks his car "head in" and turns the front wheels to one side.
This is to make it difficult for thieves to tow away his $120,000 Honda Odyssey.
He also uses steering and brake pedal locks.
The Singaporean real estate agent did all these when he visited Tebrau City in Johor Baru on 24 Jan.
Before leaving his car, he also made sure that his central locking and alarm system were on.
Yet, 25 minutes later, he was shocked to find that his car had been broken into.
And Mr Abdul Rahman has no idea how the thieves did it because there were no signs of forced entry.
"I was so confident that nobody could penetrate the car's security system," he said.
Mr Abdul Rahman and his family had gone to the mall, which is about a 20-minute drive from the Causeway, to return a faulty cleaning apparatus.
When they returned to his car, he was surprised to see that its glove compartment was open.
When Mr Abdul Rahman tried to disarm the car's alarm, the windows began moving up and down.
"I knew something was wrong because when I tried to deactivate my car alarm, I didn't hear the usual beeping sound."
His daughter's laptop, which was inside a bag on the back seat, was gone.
His GPS system, which was inside the glove compartment, a haversack and a handphone were also missing.
Mr Abdul Rahman, who estimated his loss at $3,000, made police reports in Johor Baru and Singapore.
When he checked with the carpark security guard, he was surprised to learn that his car alarm had not gone off.
"It's amazing that the thieves were able to get into my car despite me having all these security features. I don't know how they did it,"he said.
So how did the thieves do it?
One possible way is by using an electronic gadget that sends a radio frequency similar to the car's alarm system, said an expert who deals with car theft cases in Malaysia and declined to be named.
This enables thieves to open the car doors without tripping the alarm or by using force.
Those in the car industry will know where to get the device, which he said can even be found on the Internet.
"We've come across the use of this device in Malaysia, but it's not that rampant. It's more commonly used in Europe and Eastern Europe as a favoured method of breaking into a car cleanly," he said.
Car thieves are also known to "neutralise" the alarm system by short-circuiting wires in the signal lights.
Then they enter the car using a master key.
Tell-tale signs
But such a method would usually leave tell-tale signs, such as a damaged signal light or some drilled holes.
In Mr Rahman's case, there were no such indications.
Four Malaysian car accessory shops told The New Paper that they had not heard of the latest method of breaking into cars.
A spokesman for Mega Champion Automart in Johor Baru, who gave her name as Lisa, said: "When a car is broken into, there will always be some clues or sign that the car has been tampered with."
But she added that car thieves are "getting better", so car owners should install better quality alarm systems.
The Malaysian authorities are also seeing another worrying trend.
Last December, Malaysian newspaper The Malay Mail reported the existence of a new device that can override a car's security system, enabling the thief to disconnect the car alarm and drive the car away.
The device is known as TKM (Toyota Key Maker) and is believed to have been used mainly to steal Toyota cars.
The report said the TKM can be bought at some car workshops or online for as little as RM300($124).
Car theft syndicates in Malaysia have been known to steal cars using the TKM in just a few minutes.
According to the report, Toyota is the most popular foreign make targeted by thieves in Malaysia from January to October last year.
Of the 3,600 car theft cases, 1,575 involved the marque, with the most sought-after models being the Camry, Fortuner and Hilux.
As for Mr Abdul Rahman, he believes he didn't lose his car because of the steering lock and brake pedal lock.
He said: "Can you imagine how fast and easy it could have been for the thieves to drive my car off if I didn't have these locks to slow them down?"
And he's not taking anymore chances.
He has installed a $500 alarm system which will alert him via a small pager-sized device if someone is trying to break into his car.
"As long as I'm within a 3km radius of my car, I will instantly know if something happens to my car. This will give me time to dash back." 

This article was first published in The New Paper - March 1, 2010 


Car Windows Smashed In JB, Same Items Stolen

THESE two Singaporeans have more in common than just their names.
The men, who are both called Mr Mohd Rizal, went to the same mall in Johor Baru (JB) last Saturday evening.
They both had their car windows smashed and their performance gauges stolen from their vehicles.The two men did not know each other before the incident, which took place at the carpark of the Aeon Bukit Indah Shopping Centre.
The mall, a 20-minute drive away from Tuas Checkpoint, is popular with Singaporeans.
Mr Mohd Rizal, 32, a technical officer, and his wife went shopping after parking his four-year-old Kia Rio at the mall's carpark at 5.30pm.
At 9.05pm, the couple returned to the car - only to find the driver's window smashed. His performance gauge, an Apexi S-AFC, was missing.
Mr Mohd Rizal, who goes to JB twice a month, told The New Paper: "Someone had cut the cable to the gauge."
He had bought it for $400 from a car accessories shop in Singapore two years ago.
The device is popular among motorists who wish to lower their fuel consumption.
Mr Mohd Rizal said he alerted the security officer and filed a report with the mall's management.
As it turns out, he was not the only victim.
Mr Mohd Rizal said: "The security guard told me he saw that the window of another car had also been smashed, but they did not know who the owner was."
He later found out that the car's owner was another Singaporean with the same name.
The other Mr Mohd Rizal, a 37-year-old senior process technician, was also shopping at the mall with his wife and three family members.
When they returned to the carpark at 9.45pm after three hours at the mall, they saw two security officers standing around their Subaru Impreza.
The car's $600 gauge, also an Apexi S-AFC, was gone.
The thieves had smashed the driver's window to steal the gauge. Although he wasn't concealing it on purpose, Mr Mohd Rizal said he had put his baseball cap over the gauge.
"I don't understand how (the thieves) saw the gauge. Perhaps they saw it before I covered it," he said.
He too, filed a report with the mall's management.
So who were the culprits?
The older Mr Mohd Rizal said: "The security guard told me he saw the thief from a distance. But he could not stop him and his accomplice, who was on a motorcycle, from speeding away."
He did not make a police report as he felt it "would not do any good", but the younger Mr Mohd Rizal did.
The technical officer said he asked police officers to check his car's dashboard where the gauge was placed for fingerprints, but they did not find any.
Still, he is baffled how someone could have smashed the car window and steal the gauge without being detected.
"I parked at an open-air carpark and there were many other cars parked nearby. There was even a footpath nearby," he said.
He added that he parked his car headfirst into the parking lot and had locked his steering wheel to deter car thieves.
Deactivated alarm
"I think the thief prised open the window frame to deactivate the car alarm before smashing the window," he said.
However, the incident will not stop him from going to the mall, where he often buys baby products for his 7-month old daughter.
The older Mr Mohd Rizal, on the other hand, who visits the mall three to four times a month, said he intends to cut down on the number of visits.
An assistant manager in a Singapore car accessories shop, who wanted to be known only as Mr Yeo, told The New Paper that the Apexi S-AFC can fetch up to RM1,000 ($400) on the black market.
Last November, The New Paper reported that a Singaporean's car was stolen from the Aeon Tebrau City Shopping Centre, a 30-minute drive from the Aeon Bukit Indah Shopping Centre.
The 29-year-old woman's Mitsubishi Colt Plus was stolen in the 10 minutes that she left it to pay the parking fee.
In May 2008, a car radio was stolen from a Singapore-registered Honda Stream left at an open-air carpark at the Aeon Tebrau City Shopping Centre. The owner found his car window smashed.

Nurul Asyikin Mohd Nasir, newsroom intern

This article was first published in The New Paper - January 9, 2010


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