CS Khan’s house in Petaling Jaya was burglarised recently.She shared her experience and research here.
The burglar came in the dead of night when everyone was sound asleep.
This silent intruder ransacked our living room downstairs and the hall upstairs. He not only sneaked away with some of our valuables but also had the cheek to leave behind a mass of excrement just outside the back garden gate. Throughout the entire incident, none of us heard a sound!
The next morning our domestic helper discovered the burglar’s ‘handiwork’ -opened drawers and cabinets with some of the contents strewn on the floor. The grille of one of our living room windows had been forced open with the six screws removed. The burglar had slid open the unlocked window pane and made his way inside.
The maid rushed upstairs to inform my mother.
When I woke up in the morning and strolled into the living room, I found my mother, youngest brother and maid huddled around a window.
“We’ve been burglarised!” Mom said, “and none of us heard a thing!
“Thank goodness you didn’t hear anything!” interjected my brother, “or you would have come out to investigate. Then the burglar could have held you hostage and force the rest of us to open our doors!”
“Aiyaah!” gasped Mom, “I haven’t thought of that!”
“I hope you haven’t touched anything,” I said, “The police may want to examine them for the burglar’s fingerprints.”
As my brother turned to go, I continued, “Everything touched by the burglar can be used as EVIDENCE!”
“Eeer,” said Mom, “I’ve closed all the drawers already”.
“Then don’t touch them again.” I cautioned and went to the kitchen to get breakfast. When I came out again, Mom was examining the contents of a drawer.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Checking to see what’s missing,” Mom explained, “I’d touched the drawers this morning so my prints are already here.”
Anxiety all around
I realised Mom was anxious to find out what had been taken. After the “stock-taking’, Mom and the maid went to the kitchen. I followed. They went out to the back garden.
“Don’t step on any footprints left by the burglar,” I said anxiously, “and don’t touch the garden gate or go out.” I was worried they would obliterate the burglar’s tracks. Then I returned to the living room to resume my breakfast.
After some time, I heard excited voices coming from the kitchen. I rushed in to check what the matter was. The maid had recovered a glucose monitor and a box of empty red packets. She was laughing delightedly.
When Mom saw me, she said, “Look! The thief left some of our things outside!” I was speechless. “By the way” she continued, “ your brother offered to make a police report after he finishes some work for a client.” I nodded dumbly and went back to my breakfast.
I thought things over as I ate breakfast. Once done, I looked for Mom. She was weeding the garden.
“Brother is busy,” I said, “why don’t I go with you to make the police report?”
“Alright!” Mom replied.
I returned to my room to change. Suddenly, I heard a loud banging coming from outside. I rushed out. The maid was nailing the grille back.
“Stop! Stop!” I yelled, “Leave things as they are for the police to see!”
Just then, Mom came downstairs. “Let’s inform the residents’ association security committee first,” she said, “then, we’ll go to the police station.”
Seeking Police Help
We dropped by the office of the residents’ association with our unfortunate tale and then proceeded to the police station. A policeman typed the police report, gave us two copies and told us to go home.
“An officer will go to your home, later,” said the policeman. “He is in court now,” he informed us.
Two hours later, Sergeant Ismail and an assistant were at our house, examining the exterior of the house. The assistant took fingerprints and photographs. They they came inside, where more photographs were taken of the already tidied -up scene of crime were snapped.
Sergeant Ismail interviewed us about the incident and took notes. Then, I asked him what we should do if there was another burglary.
Below are some of the do[s] and don’t[s] he left us with:
- Inform the police. Even if nothing is taken, make a police report. It will give the police an idea how serious crime is in the area. The report also provides information on the type of crime and modus operandi of the criminal[s].
- Alert your neighbours. This enables your neighbours to increase their vigilance. Furthermore, someone may have noticed something unusual at the time of the crime or before it –such information may prove useful to the police.
Leave the scene of crime untouched – No matter how horrific the devastation is.
- Don’t touch anything. The burglar may have left his fingerprints behind. If you touch them, you may smudge or obliterate his fingerprints. The same goes for footprints and bite marks etc.
- Don’t clean and tidy up before the police arrive. The police photograph the scene of the crime. If you tidy up before they arrive, the photos would not be a true representation of what the intruder had done.
Sergeant Ismail told us that the fingerprints were smudged. Therefore, they could not be used. I asked him what he would do with the fingerprints if they were not smudged.
He answered, “We’ll check to see whether they were made by people with criminal records. The search results would be known in a fortnight.”
“Would the fingerprints be checked against those kept in the National Registration Department?” I asked.
“Oh no,” he answered. “We only match them against police records kept by Bukit Aman.”
He also gave us the phone number of their ‘bilik gerakan’ or operations room.
“Next time you don’t need to go to the police station to make a report, “he said, “Just phone up the ‘bilik gerakan’. It is manned round the clock. A police car would be sent to your home within 10 minutes.”
Some good has come out of this incident. It made the family re-evaluate the adequacy of our security measures. We examined the human lapses and security weaknesses in our home.
Don’t touch anything. The burglar may have left his fingerprints behind. If you touch them, you may smudge or obliterate his fingerprints. The same goes for footprints and bite marks etc.
Lifestyle – by CS Khan.
Challenges Magazine Vol1 Issue4, 2008 (Challenges Magazine is a journalism skills training project for persons with disabilities started in 2007)