shoes BY THE numbers Thieves even stole
The number of violent and property crimes in Johor last year, down from the 19,068 in 2012, said Johor police chief Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff last month.
They wanted a quieter life.
So last year, the couple and their family moved out of their five-room HDB flat in Woodlands and rented a semi-detached house for RM2,500 a month (S$965) in the Straits View area in Johor Baru, Malaysia.
But on Sunday night, that tranquillity was shattered when they returned from a wedding ceremony in Singapore to find their three-storey house burgled.
The family lost $10,000 in cash and valuables, and all they got in return was a crowbar left behind by the burglars.The couple live in the house with their four adult children, a son-in-lawand a two-month-old grandson.
The wife, who wanted to be known only as Madam Su, told The New Paper that the burglary has made her reconsider living in Johor Baru.
"Before this incident, I was telling my family and friends that it was good to be living in Johor Baru," the 58-year-old housewife said at their home on Tuesday.
"I never expected something this bad to happen to us. This incident has made me think twice about living here. Now I want to move back to Singapore."
Their Woodlands flat, which they still own, had become too cramped for the large family, she said.
So last year, they moved to Johor Baru. The other family memberscommute to Singapore for work and school daily.
On Sunday at about 11pm, the family saw a group of neighbours outside as they drove up their street.
"My first thought was that someone had passed away," Madam Su said.
But her curiosity soon turned into shock when she realised the neighbours were standing in front of her home.
She knew no one was home and immediately suspected a burglary when she saw her gate and front door open.
"I started trembling and my family and neighbours had to calm me down," she said.
The family rushed inside and found the house in a mess.
"Cupboards were open and everything was scattered all over the floor," Madam Su said.
TV, CASH, JEWELLERY GONE
Many of their belongings were missing, including a 42-inch Samsung TV, $2,000 in cash, jewellery, three laptops, three tablets, 10 footballs, an electric drill, a chess set, a purple basket and a piece of luggage.
Madam Su's son, who wanted to be known as Mr Faizal, 38, said: "Even our shoe cupboard was not spared. They rummaged through it and stole some of our branded shoes."
The musician said that some items were left untouched - branded bags, a keyboard instrument, a laptop and five electric guitars worth a total of $10,000.
But what shocked the family was the sight of a crowbar, believed to have been used to break open the front door, lying on the bed in the master bedroom.
"The burglars must have left it behind in their haste," Mr Faizal said.
His brother-in-law called the police and went to the Johor Baru Sentral Police Station to make a report.
While he was there, he noticed a white car with his mother-in-law's purple basket inside.
Mr Faizal said the police later told his family that they had caught two suspects - a man and a woman.
It tallied with the accounts of some of their neighbours, said Mr Faizal.
"One of them said he had seen a couple carrying our TV set out of the house. But he had just moved in and didn't know us well, so he didn't do anything," he said.
Mr Faizal's father, who wanted to be known as Mr Haj, said a neighbour had also said that an unfamiliar car was parked outside the house for about 45 minutes in the afternoon.
The freelance teacher said: "I called for a meeting with our neighbours and we agreed that we have to look out for one another from now on.
"We also raised suggestions, such as setting up a WhatsApp group chat to inform each other when one family is leaving home."
Among their neighbours in the estate are 20 Singaporean families.
The family is also considering installing an alarm system, buying better padlocks and even getting a guard dog.
As for Madam Su's wanting to return to Singapore, Mr Haj said: "My wife is still traumatised by the burglary. We haven't decided yet, but we are definitely going to be more careful if we are to continue living here."
Johor Baru police declined to comment as investigations are ongoing.
Last month, Johor's police chief, Mr Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff, assured Singaporeans and business investors that the Malaysian state is safe "beyond doubt".
Although there were 17,105 violent and property crimes in Johor last year, it was down from the 19,068 in 2012, he said.
S'pore residents in JB still feel safe
Her neighbour's house was burgled on Sunday. But Madam Tati Hussain remains unfazed.
The administrator, 45, said: "I know it's just one unfortunate incident . It does not scare me at all. I believe it won't happen again."
But she admitted that she might have to take precautions.
Madam Tati, a Singaporean who has lived in Johor Baru for three years, said: "Now we all have to be more 'kaypoh' (busybody in Hokkien) and vigilant. We have to look out for our neighbours and watch out for anything out of the ordinary."
While she is happy living there, she plans to move back to Singapore, not out of concern about crime, but because of convenience.
"I drive my children to school (in Singapore) every morning and in the past few months, it takes hours to get into Singapore," said Madam Tati.
"But when we are older, we will retire in Johor Baru because it is very peaceful."
Mr Buang Ismail, 66, who has lived at Taman Sri Pulai Perdana, Johor Baru, for almost eight years, also feels safe.
The Singaporean retiree said there had been instances of his neighbours' houses being burgled, but these were few and far between.
"I haven't heard of any cases in the last six months. To be honest, I'm not really concerned. I've installed burglar alarms and we live in a gated community where the security guards are always patrolling."
Mr Zach Yeo, 32, a manager, who has lived in Horizon Hills, Johor Baru, for about two years, is also staying put.
"The air is so fresh here and it's extremely convenient," the Singaporean said. "You just have to be extra careful you are not targeted. Not showing off your wealth would be a good start."