Monday, July 27, 2009

Malaysian hotels hit by foreign thieves: Bolder Latin American syndicates

LATIN American syndicates have struck again and they are getting bolder. Smartly dressed, they easily pass off as hotel guests or tour agents.

Six hotels in the city have been targetted with the latest reported on July 15, though it is still unclear whether this is a single group or several acting with the same mode of operation.

Hoteliers are now deeply concerned with the number of incidents that have occurred since May.

These sets of pictures show foreigners, believed to be Latin Americans, at work. (Click here to see CCTV images)

In one, a woman, elegantly dressed, snatches a purse as she walks past a table at a hotel coffee house at breakfast time. The crime went unnoticed and was only later detected on closed circuit television CCTV cameras. She was not caught.

Malay Mail in the past, has carried several articles on Latin American syndicates targetting hotel guests and making off with their belongings.

Some have been arrested while some are still at large. Those arrested have been prosecuted, jailed and deported.

These are images taken from several hotels in the city which have become the syndicates latest victims.

In the latest case on July 15, the suspects, in a group of three - two males and a female - made off with a luggage belonging to a hotel guest.

Their act was caught on CCTV cameras in which they seemed to have followed the victim into the hotel.

The victim placed his backpack on the floor behind him. A male suspect, wearing a black jacket, pretends to be a tour agent, with a white tag on his jacket.

Meanwhile, the female suspect pretends to be a hotel guest while another male suspect observes the surrounding.

It was so well planned, that the victim did not notice his bag had been stolen at first. The hotel was alerted to the incident later.

The syndicate not only strike at the lobby but also coffee houses and conference rooms, mingling with the crowd before making their move.

They have made off with laptops, digital cameras, purses, handbags and luggage all in broad daylight.
In one case, a suspect was arrested while trying to escape with a luggage.

He was caught by a bell boy who noticed him walking away with a bag belonging to a hotel guest. He was stopped and arrested. His accomplice, a woman, however, managed to escape. This attempted theft occurred on July 2.

Recent cases of foreigner hotel thieves

July 8, 2008: The “Snake Charmers”, a Middle- Eastern couple, with a child, stole money through hypnotism and sleight of hand. They were spotted near a five-star hotel in Jalan Bukit Bintang approaching its entrance at 11pm. As the child played around the entrance the couple scouted for potential victims. However, they were recognised by hotel security and ran off before they could be caught. The “snake charmers” are believed to have struck more than 10 times in Kuala Lumpur and other States in the last two years.

Sept 20, 2008: A suspect, believed to be Middle Eastern or Latin American caught on CCTV footage, stole a room key card from a guest at the poolside and immediately went up to the room and stole her valuables. The guest went back to her room with a replacement key, to discover her laptop, wireless mouse, Internet cable and plug, computer case and digital camera missing. Earlier that same day at 3pm, the suspect had struck at another hotel and stole a woman’s handbag while she went to the toilet with her children. Though she was with her husband, he was too busy reading the newspapers to realise what had happened.

Sept 26, 2008: A hotel burglar, thought to be of Middle Eastern or Latin American origin, was caught on CCTV in five-star hotels in the city. In a late night incident on Sept 18, a hotel guest checking in at the counter, placed his luggage beside him on the floor. While the guest was busy, a man stood behind him, as though he was also queuing behind him but calmly bent down and took the guest’s hand-carry luggage, placed it on his shoulder and stood there for a few seconds before walking off.

Aug 23, 2008: A woman, masquerading as an Arab during the “Arab season”, snuck up to an Arab family having breakfast at a hotel in Batu Ferringhi and grabbed a handbag that was on a chair. However, the theft was noticed and she was held by the father of the family and sent to the Batu Ferringhi police station.

Aug 24, 2008: A female guest from a hotel in Penang was checking out and had placed her handbag next to a sofa in the hotel lobby before going to the reception counter to settle her bill. She returned to the sofa minutes later and found her handbag missing, losing her IC, credit cards, car keys and RM3,000. CCTV recordings showed three South American men sitting down on the sofa next to the woman, eyeing her handbag closely. They had dropped a set of keys on the floor to distract the woman.

April 17, 2009: Korean national Kevin Kee Bung Rhee, 46, lost his laptop, pda, and camera to a wily thief when he was at the check-in counter of the Petaling Jaya Hilton. He had placed his hand luggage beside him and it suddenly went missing. CCTV footage showed a man dressed in a T-shirt, long pants and sneakers, reaching out beside Kee and making off with his luggage.

CCTV images of foreign syndicates at work


A sequence of A woman and a man believed to be Latin American went in a coffee shop and made off with valuables including a purse which victims left on their tables while they went to get the food from the buffet counter during breakfast time. They were all smartly dressed and walked out of the hotel coolly minutes later.

cctv1 cctv2cctv3 cctv4

A Peruvian detained by hotel secuity personnel
after he tried to escape with luggage belonging
to a hotel guest.

Two suspects made off with a bag belonging to
the woman seen in the image. She left her bag
at the table while she joined her husband and
son at the buffet counter.


Two men believed to be Latin American leaving
a hotel. The guy in front has a camera bag slung
on his shoulder. The camera which was worth
about RM1,300 was stolen from a lounge of a hotel
in the city. They were believed to be the same
suspects that struck a hotel in Ampang last month.


A suspect carrying a laptop bag which was said
to have been stolen from a function at a hotel.
He easily moved in and mixed with the crowd and
no one noticed anything amiss as no one knew
each other.


The foreigners said to be a Latin American Gang
that made off with a luggage belonging to a hotel
guest. There are three of them.

Source : Malay Mail
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1 comment:

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