Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mid Valley Mega Mall pickpocketing gang

Day 17 - Saturday Sept 29

We knew that we were coming to the end of our stay in KL so we decided to hit the shops one last time and visit a mega mall that was known for heaps of great bargains.

The train rides are always an experience in themselves. They were alot more laid back than in Korea, probably because there weren't 12 million people around. :) The platforms weren't always crowded and the trains although on time, ambled really slowly along the tracks.

This was the sign outside our train station near our apartment. I don't know what it said, but the picture was scary enough.

There was a separate waiting area for ladies if they didn't want to hang out with the guys and there were even 'ladies only' train carriages which had pink signs on them to let people know. We didn't realise all this at first and because we were westerners, the locals seemed pretty forgiving of Simon sitting in a pink carriage. :)

 Our platform was quiet and peaceful with a nice breeze coming through the tunnel but when we got closer to the city and to KL Sentral, it got very busy indeed which is why pickpocketing gangs target these areas to do their jobs.

After a great shop at the mega mall and fully ladden with shopping bags, we made our way back to the platform to catch our train home. It was about 3.30 pm and very busy. Over here when a train pulls up, no-one queues up and waits for the people getting off to hop off before getting on which is the really logical thing in my mind. As soon as the train stops, people have to push their way off while the people on the platform try to get on at the same time. I had stood back a bit with Flynn on my back waiting until the last people got on so I wasn't being pushed and I had a few bags in my hands as did Mum. Simon had moved ahead in the middle of the pack with shopping bags in either hand. The other kids were with me and we were going to get on altogether so no-one was lost in the crowd.

There was a man in front of Simon trying to get off (or so we thought) and he kept moving in front of Simon and as Simon would step to one side he would step the same way. They played this little dance for a few seconds and Simon thought it was a little weird. At the same time people were behind him shoving and pushing and at first he didn't think anything of feeling people's hands on his back etc, thinking they were just like him and trying to get on the train. But then Simon said, he felt something different, like a hand near his leg and had this feeling that something wasn't right. He got on the train and felt for his wallet and it was gone.

We had already got on the train by now and Simon yelled out to me and dumped the shopping bags down and ran down the platform. I panicked at first thinking it was one of the kids but realised we were all there and I yelled to Mum that we had to get off the train. I had just picked up the shopping bags and got off when Simon came running back down the platform and got on the train.

After realising his wallet was gone, he had run after the guy who had been pretending to get off and grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around and demanded his wallet back. I am amazed that Simon even recognised the guy, let alone chased him down and we laughed later about Simon going into automatic police mode. The guy was really surprised that Simon had approached him and that Simon had realised so soon that he had been pickpocketed. He looked over Simon's shoulder at these other two guys, who were the guys behind Simon pretending to push and shove their way on the train. They had dropped Simon's wallet on the platform pretending that he must have dropped it and they walked off. We think they didn't want to make a fuss and draw attention to themselves because they probably worked that platform everyday.

We realised that the 3 of them had been working as a team with two behind Simon and one in front. The two behind did the pickpocket and the one in front was the decoy. Because so many people are there trying to get off and on, no-one thinks anything of people pressing up against them and westerners who are distracted by bags and stressing about everyone getting on a crowded train before the doors close in an unfamiliar place, are prime targets.

Back on the train I asked Simon to check for his phone and he then realised that they had got that too but it was too late now, although Simon was itching to go back to the train station to try and find them. HIs wallet was all intact and our travel insurance covered the phone but we were still angry that they were partly successful in the pickpocket.

The rest of the train carriage had watched the scene unfold in amusement and then threw their two bob's worth in about their own experiences of also being pickpocketed.

We had to report the incident to the police for insurance purposes and we knew they were going to be pretty relaxed about the whole thing. They said that every day someone reports a pickpocket and while we were there, a a local man came in to report his wallet stolen. It had only just happened outside, and he could identify the men and what they looked like, but the police didn't even move from their chairs. They needed big signs, saying "whatever" "tell someone who cares".

It made me think about how frightening it would be in a foreign country if something more serious happened. The police were not at all friendly and their room did not have a computer or any sign of modern technology. The report process was so long and laborious. As Simon explained what happened, the police officer wrote it down and then rang someone, somewhere, and dictated the report into the phone, having to pause several times to spell words because it was in English. They liked that Simon was also a police officer but it didn't change their nonchalant, almost bored attitude. It was definitely an eye opener and I was so grateful it was only about a stolen phone and nothing more.

1 comment:

Nettie's Blog said...

oh my goodness...something to remember hey...good on Simon for going into policeman..i would have loved to be an observer...but then it would have been scary for it to happen to you as well....