S'pore man with toddler jumps out of car after it's carjacked
He was with his 1½-year-old toddler in the rented multi-purpose vehicle in Johor when two men hijacked it.
Singaporean T. H. Tan, 33, and his son leapt off the vehicle just as it started to move.
"I was left standing barefoot in the carpark," he told The New Paper.
The incident happened around 6pm on Nov 23, when the family of eight were on their way back from a holiday in Genting.
"We had rented the Malaysian-registered (Hyundai Starex) MPV and a driver for about $700. We were on our way from Malacca to Johor Baru when we decided to make a pit stop at Yong Peng," said Mr Tan, who works in the IT sector.
Everyone except he and his son got out of the car to buy snacks at a supermarket.
"I wasn't feeling well, so I decided to stay in the car with my son," he added.
The driver had left the aircon on for them and the engine running before going off with the rest.
A few minutes later, Mr Tan noticed two men get out of a white Honda City parked behind the MPV and approach from either side of the vehicle.As they were approaching, the white car moved to block the front of the MPV.
"One of the men opened the driver's door and hopped in. The other slid open the door to the passenger's side," said Mr Tan said, adding that he did not have time to reach over and lock the doors.
"When I realised what was happening, I had to react fast or they would have driven off with me and the baby in the car.
"I quickly slid open the door to my right and jumped out with my baby. I think it was mere seconds before they drove off, leaving me in the dust, barefoot and standing in the carpark."
Taken along with the car were Mr Tan's iPad, laptop, wallet, seven suitcases and passports belonging to him, his wife and his mother-in-law.
Mrs Tan, a Singapore permanent resident from China, said the other family members had their travel documents with them.
"Because my husband was staying in the car, my mother and I decided to leave our documents with him for safekeeping," the 28-year-old housewife said in Mandarin.
After the hijackers drove off, Mr Tan ran into the supermarket and shouted for help.
"Someone called the police who arrived quite quickly," he said.
"I was also told that a closed-circuit television camera outside the supermarket had captured the whole incident.
"The video was given to the police."
Mrs Tan said her mother had initially planned to stay in the vehicle but decided to alight at the last minute.
"Good thing she did," she explained.
"She sat behind my husband during the trip and he had to move his seat to let her out.
"Can you imagine having to do that in seconds during the hijacking? I still turn cold at the thought of that."
Mr Tan is particularly worried about his private details and his company's information in the iPad and laptop.
"We had to change the locks to my home," he said. "But what (can I do) about my car?"
Mr Tan, his wife and mother-in-law spent the next few days running around to get travel documents from their respective countries' representatives in Malaysia.
"My mother-in-law was visiting from China and it was the first time we took her to Malaysia," said Mr Tan.
"We went to the Chinese embassy in Kuala Lumpur to get her temporary travel documents.
"I also had to go the Singapore High Commission to report my documents stolen.
"The other family members gave us whatever cash they had on them before returning to Singapore, but it was difficult for us to run around with limited cash.
"By the time we got things sorted and came home, we had less than RM100 (S$38) on us."
But Mrs Tan was glad no one was hurt in the ordeal.
"Belongings can be replaced but if I were to have lost my husband and baby, it would have been disastrous," she said.
WHEN ROBBED, RECORD A VIDEO
In situations like this, never give chase.
This is the advice from security consultancy Soverus' chief executive Paul Lim, 43.
"A significant percentage of those who rob are on drugs. This means they are not in their sound mind," said Mr Lim.
He added that to keep safe while overseas, keep a low profile.
"Don't be flashy and show off your wealth - this tells would-be robbers to come and get it," he said.
When on long-haul trips, he advised travellers to be mindful of the surroundings.
"Never stop at dark places. Crime lurks there," he said.
"Always trust your instincts. If you think there is something wrong, move off.
"If you need to stop, go to a brightly-lit place that has a lot of people. There are several of these along the North-South Expressway."
Mr Lim said that many people tend to leave their cars unlocked at the pit-stops.
He said: "One big mistake is to leave the engine running. Robbers are constantly on the lookout.
"If they made off with your car with your family member inside, the situation would be 100 times worse."
Should there be a robbery, Mr Lim advised victims to record it on video.
"Keep calm and record everything on your mobile phone," he said.
"Turn 360 degrees around. That way, you will record everything, including the people who have gathered.
"More often than not, the robber's accomplice would still be there, among the bystanders, and would be recorded in your video.
This would help facilitate police investigations."