Whenever the topic of crime pops up in daily conversations, there will be the inevitable laments of the crime rate going up, warnings of snatch thieves everywhere, and anecdotes of friends and/or family members being victims of a recent robbery. How much truth lies in coffeeshop conversations like these?
People may exaggerate, but numbers don’t lie. It was revealed that Malaysia’s crime index rose 4.6% between January and April this year due to an increase in property crimes. Nearly 39,000 crimes involving properties were recorded in the first quarter of 2016 alone, amounting to about 58% of total crimes being property crimes. Although car and motorcycle thefts have declines over the past 3 years, the number of home burglaries and snatch theft has increased, which is closely related to the criminals’ ability to pick locks and outsmart security systems.
Many people would think that criminals like robbers and snatch thieves would target people who publicly display their wealth, but sadly that is not the case. Just last week, the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) announced that it would put up new perimeter fencing for several Public Housing (PA) and People’s Housing (PPR) projects in the city, in order to prevent further incidents of vehicle theft, vandalism, robbery, snatch theft and drug-related offences.
Insufficient lighting and poor upkeep of public housing areas contribute to criminal activities, not to mention thick undergrowth and untrimmed trees along pedestrian walkways which obstruct the view and provide hiding places for criminals waiting to ambush unsuspecting victims. That is why planning for residential projects should take into consideration some aspects of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED), such as having good lighting on the streets, proper walkways for pedestrians, CCTV monitoring of the area, no trees or bushes blocking the view, and having emergency services nearby.
Unfortunately, it is not only the public housing projects that are becoming a hotspot for unsavoury characters. Just a little over a month ago, it was reported that residents of Taman Hillview and Taman Sri Ukay had urged the authorities to demolish the two abandoned Highland Towers buildings, which had become hideouts for criminals and drug addicts. Residents in the area were concerned for their safety, as these criminals used the towers to observe the nearby housing areas and plan targeted robberies and thefts.
More and more residential areas, especially in the Klang Valley, have set up ‘gated and guarded’ perimeters to increase security. While it is a commendable course of action to ensure the safety of residents, it is also an extra burden, as they have to pay maintenance fees and suffer the inconvenience of single entry and exit points. Even with guards patrolling the housing area and CCTV cameras installed in houses, there are still incidents of people getting robbed when entering their homes, or becoming victims of snatch thieves while crossing the road.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is to be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. It doesn’t hurt to learn some self-defense techniques too! 😉