Stop and steal: Thieves prey on tourists in Malaysia


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (eTN) – Malaysian police and the Malaysian Association of Hotels have joined forces to track down gangs of organized foreign thieves who have been preying on guests at top hotels over the last few years.

Alarmed at the damage it is causing the country’s tourism industry, a hotelier said, “We need more cooperation within the industry and the police.”

Believed to be foreigners from Colombia, Peru, the Philippines and the Middle East, police confirmed at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday that the gangs have been operating in the Malaysian capital as well as Penang and Johor Baru.

In the latest publicized case, a gang of organized thieves, believed to be Peruvians, was caught on a hotel CCTV footage committing their act by distracting their victims at the check-in desk as other gang members run-off with the victim’s luggage right from the hotel lobby. “It was executed right under the noses of the victims, hotel staff and security officers.”

Authorities believe the gang trailed their victims from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport right to the hotel.

Police also believe that the gangs may not only have local links to dispose off their loot, but international links as well to receive tip offs from on their intended victims.

Other modus operandi by the thieves include impersonating Interpol officers, and sleight of hand tactics under the pretext of changing into smaller currencies.

According to the police, there have been 16 cases of pickpockets and 27 cases of hotel thefts.

Dismissing the incidents as yet “not worrying,” Kuala Lumpur CID chief Assistant Commissioner Ku Chin Wah said, the police are facing difficulty in solving such cases due to the victims not willing to lodge a police report and be present in court to give evidence.

“On many occasions, ” added Ku, “the culprits were caught during failed attempts. But we can only charge them for trespassing in hotel premises.”

Admitting that the situation requires closer cooperation between the police and hoteliers, Ku said, “If we get any information, we will send out an alert to hoteliers.”