By Mariam Mokhtar
At around 2pm one Friday, Amy decided to go to the car park at the Old Catholic Centre in Ipoh to leave a bag in her car. She slung the bag over the shoulder on which she was carrying her handbag, and left her office.
Nothing seemed amiss as she stepped off the pavement onto the slip road – a young man was walking along the road, another was sitting in his car. As a motorbike sped past, driven by a man in a black T-shirt, with a pillion-rider, wearing a green T-shirt, Amy continued on her way.
With people milling about, Amy felt safe. The area had recently seen a rise in theft and two women from nearby offices had been robbed at knifepoint, after work.
At the car park, Amy unlocked the rear passenger door and slid the bag off her shoulder to place in the car. As she removed the bigger bag, she felt a gentle tug on the strap of her handbag. She also heard someone mumbling. Amy turned around to find herself staring at the blade of a knife, held by a young boy, who appeared to be Malay. He was clad in dark trousers and a green T-shirt. He also wore a helmet.
He tugged again at her handbag. This time he barked, “Bagi saya wang!” He wrenched the handbag off Amy’s shoulder and ran away. The speed of the attack left Amy stunned and motionless.
Before she went to lodge a police report, Amy cancelled her credit cards and handphone. At the Sungai Senam police station (crimes in this particular area are covered by this police station), Amy noticed a young Malay girl waiting to report a theft. They swapped stories.
The Malay girl said that she had been in the Ladies’ toilet of the Ipoh Parade, around noon, when a young Malay-looking boy in a black T-shirt held her at knifepoint and demanded money. When she told him that she had none, he seized her handphone.
Having completed the police report, Amy was told to see the ‘A’ team. This meant a trip across town to the “A” team office, which is near the Ipoh Railway Station. The Malay girl whom Amy met earlier, was waiting to be seen.
As the Inspector whom Amy should have seen was busy, she had to discuss her ordeal with a policewoman. Amy asked about the necessity of making two reports, and was told that the preliminary report at Sungai Senam was only a brief report, the one compiled by the “A” team would be more detailed.
Amy requested a copy of the detailed police report, but was told that the report is “tak sah” (not valid) unless it was paid for. For unspecified reasons, the policewoman could not give Amy a receipt for her own copy of the police report, but advised Amy that she could obtain a copy from any police station.
The following morning, Amy went to the local police station, to obtain a copy of the police report. She was told that she should have obtained it the previous day, after making the report. Having heard Amy’s explanation, the policewoman on duty phoned the Sungai Senam police station for help with printing a copy of Amy’s report.
After paying RM2, Amy was issued with a receipt but she could still not get a printout because the clerical staff, who printed these reports, only works during office hours. Furthermore, the officer-in-charge who had access to the system and knew how to print the reports, was unavailable, so nobody could print one.
Amy said, “The mind simply boggles at the way reports are handled. I had to go to three police stations or visit the police station three times just to make a report and get a report.
“Why do we need to make two reports? No wonder the police do not have enough people on the streets when they spend their time doing reports.”
She claimed that she has never seen a policeman in the Greentown/Syuen Hotel/Excelsior Hotel area, which is reportedly high in crime. Many of her colleagues know of someone who has been robbed. One girl was pushed into a drain and her handbag snatched.
The previous day, the policewoman at the “A” team in Ipoh told Amy, “There are patrols but these guys are very smart. They attack only when the police patrol has passed.”
Amy wonders about the effectiveness of police cars and said, “They are just alerting these criminals to their presence or absence. I also have never seen police walking around the area. It looks like our police are only seen at roadblocks or on lonely roads near where I live, preying on poor motorcyclists”.
This is Amy’s second experience of being robbed. Her first was when her handbag was snatched in front of the Creative Music Academy, opposite Jusco and a police pondok. She is worried about the escalating crime, and does not think that the barriers which have been erected specially to deter snatch thieves are of any use.
She has a suggestion, “How difficult is it to use a policewoman as a decoy? The barriers won’t stop them. The money would have been better spent beefing up the police force.”
Many people will empathise with Amy. Despite her frustration and anger, Amy was pleased to note that the policemen were very nice to her. They showed concern that she wanted to have a printout of the report, “especially when she had to pay for it, too”.
It seems obvious that a victim of a crime would need a copy of a police report for several reasons. First: to keep a record of what happened. Second: a copy is needed to make an insurance claim. Third: if there was a breakthrough in the case, the thieves were caught or the items in Amy’s handbag were recovered, the report serves as proof of ownership.
Many newspaper reports claim that crime has decreased. If making a police report is a hassle and people decide against making them, many crimes may go unreported and the false figures would indicate an apparent decrease in crime.
(Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)