Recently, a vehicle theft syndicate was arrested for a string of car and motorcycle robberies in Malaysia. These individuals focused on stealing vehicles that were parked for extended periods of time in Johor Bahru—specifically cars that belonged to people who worked in Singapore. News like this can be unsettling not only for Malaysian commuters who work in Singapore, but also for Singaporeans who may frequently drive in Malaysia. So what should you do if you frequently drive in Malaysia? We explore below.
How Common is Vehicle Theft in Malaysia?
In 2018, there were 35,953 cases of vehicle theft in Malaysia. For comparison's sake, Singapore reported only 886 cases of vehicle theft (including vehicle related thefts, such as car component theft). Even when standardising for population, Malaysia's 2018 vehicle theft rate of 111 per 100,000 persons greatly exceeded Singapore's (15.7 per 100,000). However, even though vehicle theft in Malaysia is more common than it is in Singapore, the good news is that it has been steadily declining thanks to rigorous police efforts. Thus, while you should definitely be more careful and diligent in Malaysia, it can be comforting to know that the risk of getting your motorcycle or car stolen has been steadily improving.
Handy Accessories to Reduce Your Risk of Car Theft
Lastly, you can invest in car accessories that can help prevent theft. For instance, you can consider getting a steering wheel lock, such as the RASLOK. These wheel locks can help protect against car thieves who can hack into keyless car systems. You can also get brake pedal and gear shift locks. Motorcycle riders can consider investing in a disc lock alarm, which you can get from brands like XENA. A chain lock that keeps your motorcycle attached to something immovable is a good way to discourage motorcycle thieves as well. While it may be tempting to get cheaper anti-theft accessories, spending a bit more on a higher quality and technologically advanced product may actually be the better choice when it comes to theft prevention.
Will Your Insurance Cover Vehicle Damage and Theft Outside of Singapore?
Singaporeans who have their vehicles stolen in Malaysia should be covered by their Third Party Fire & Theft or Comprehensive car and motorcycle insurance plans. Both forms of insurance provide coverage throughout West Malaysia (including Penang and islands offshore of Malaysia) and 80km into Southern Thailand. This coverage extends to accidents, loss and theft. Some car insurers offer an 'overseas booster' benefit that will also provide emergency assistance, towing services, and reimbursement for travel back to Singapore while overseas.
The first thing you should do if you are a victim of a car theft is to report to the police. You should also make a note of any travel documents that are missing and report to the consulate general. After you have filed a police report, you may then notify your insurer (within 24 hours). To reduce the odds that your claim is denied, you should make sure you don't do anything that could count against you. For instance, you should always make sure your car door is locked, you are parked in an authorised parking zone and your car is in roadworthy condition.
Simple Precautions for Keeping Your Vehicle Safe From Theft
While it's impossible to fully prevent vehicle theft, there are actions you can take to reduce the chances. First, you should take all reasonable precautions when leaving your car parked for a long period of time. This includes keeping all your windows up and your doors locked. It is also wise to avoid leaving anything valuable visible in the car that can entice potential thieves. Parking in a well-lit and heavily trafficked area can discourage thieves from going after your car since they'll have a higher chance of getting caught. Another word of advice is to make sure you park head first—keeping the front of your car exposed can make it easy for thieves who like to tow away cars.