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Monday, February 20, 2012

S'porean asked to pay $ 10k to get back car stolen in KL

Sulaiman Kamal | 12:40 PM | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Nearly two weeks after a car was stolen from a carpark in Kuala Lumpur, its Singaporean owner received a disturbing text message.

It read: "I know where your car is but I need money."

The message which James (not his real name) received on Feb 4 came from a man who claimed to be part of a carjacking syndicate.

Although he did not identify himself, the man claimed that the car had been stolen by members of his syndicate.

And he was willing to return it to James - in exchange for RM25,000 (S$10,400).

James, a 33-year-old logistics executive, told The New Paper: "I was angry when I lost my car, but now I don't know what to do. Should I pay up or negotiate further with the man?"

He requested that he remain anonymous for fear of reprisals by the car theft syndicate.

James last saw his silver Honda Civic Type R - which he bought four years ago for $96,000 - on Jan 24 at Petaling Street in the heart of KL's Chinatown.

James said he was gone from his car for only 15 minutes to run an errand. He returned to find that the vehicle had vanished from the carpark.

He made police reports in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, but said: "To be frank, I had given up any hope of my car being found."

An average of 150 vehicles are stolen a day in Malaysia and they are often cannibalised for their parts, which are sold abroad, Malaysian daily The Star reported recently.


James admitted that he had heard about the spate of car thefts in the Malaysian capital, but had not expected to become a victim.

When his friends heard about his loss, they swung into action.

"Almost immediately after the car was stolen, my friends put out notices on car forums and on several Facebook pages," he said.

They listed his car model and contact details on the postings, and James believes the man who contacted him got his mobile phone number from one of the postings.

"The man told me in one of our conversations that carjack syndicates usually trawl car forums and Facebook pages, maybe to get in touch with the car owners for money."

One of the first few messages James received was straight to the point: "I know where the car is... but I want money".

He dismissed the text message "as a prank".

"He could have seen the messages my friends left on the car forums and made the claims based on that," said James.

"But I believed him when he gave me a detailed description of my car's interior and the contents. He even told me the exact location where the car was stolen."

Relieved to finally receive news about his car, James said he was initially willing to part with RM10,000 to get it back.

But the man replied in a text message: "Sorry I want RM25,000 bcoz i need money to run after i tell u where is the car. If not if my boss know i sure die."

In order to get his car back, James had to go to KL to meet the man.

"He did say my car will be sent to Thailand soon if I don't pay up. The man also said the car is being kept in various places. My guess is that they don't want it to be found," James said.

Over the next few days, the man became bolder.

Said James: "He started making phone calls, even telling me I should buy gold if I can't raise the cash... which I have to deliver personally to exchange for my car."

On Feb 9, James decided he had had enough.

"I stopped communicating with him completely... I've given up on my car. What ever happens now, I leave it to the authorities," he said with a sigh.

The New Paper also tried to contact the man using the phone number on James' phone, but without success. James said he has filed a claim with his car insurance company and said that it is investigating the case.

Private investigator Lionel De Souza said that given the spate of car thefts in Malaysia, Singaporean drivers must always take precautions. Leave the detecting to the authorities.

But the former police officer said this is the first time he has heard of a thief calling a victim and demanding ransom.

"It's very rare and certainly not very smart... It's as if the thief wants to be caught," he added.



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