Snatch theft is becoming a serious issue nowadays. During the months of June and July 2004, the local media, especially the press, have been replete with reports of crime and violence in Malaysia. There have been many reports of snatch thefts which has given a great impact to the society. Police statistics on these crimes indicate that they are on the rise. Therefore, there is a sense of anxiety, even panic and fear in the air.
The seriousness of this crime can be proven when on January 29th, 2005, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi himself has addressed throughout the country his curious concern on the rise of the crime and the need to implement more severe punishments. There are lots of articles in the newspapers and on the internet to show the seriousness of the offence of snatch theft. On January 30th 2005, our nation's leading newspapers, namely Berita Minggu and The Star had reported snatch theft crimes, which had happened near Ipoh, Perak. The suspect had snatched the bag from a sixty year old woman at a shopping mall at Jalan Kampar, as the woman was walking to her car. The twenty year old thief, who had tried to escape in his car, also knocked down a man, who suffered minor injuries. The suspect ran through the traffic lights and collided with two cars. This has caused him to lose control of his vehicle, which then hit the road sign. The suspect then was detained.
The second example of this snatch theft crime happened on January 9th 2005. Berita Minggu had reported another snatch theft incident, where two female students were injured after their motorcycle crashed into a concrete drain while escaping from a snatch criminal. The suspect had followed the girls with a motorcycle on their way after attending tuition class. In another case, on June 10th 2004, Ros Saliza Burhan, a factory worker on her way waiting for the bus was followed by two men on a motorcycle. Failed to snatch the victim’s bag, the criminal had used force against her by stabbing her three times so that she will release her bag. The victim fainted because of the injury.
Those were just among a few cases occur in our country. There are other cases, which cause a more terrifying result such as death, grievous hurt, shocked and so forth. The seriousness of this offence can be seen when Chin Wai Fong died in Brickfields in May when she fought back against a snatch thief. Then Chong Fee Cheng fell, went into a coma and died while resisting a snatch thief in Johor Baru in mid-June. This was followed by the killing of Rosli Mohamed Saad who had gone to the aid of an Indonesian woman whose bag was snatched in Ampang in June 29. The newspapers also carried statistics on the number of snatch thefts. Relying on police statistics, Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon revealed that there had been a total of 515 cases of snatch thefts in Penang between January and May 2004. Meanwhile the Perak Chief Police Officer reported a total of 374 cases of snatch thefts in his state during January to May 2004.
With all the examples and discussions given, the issue of whether or not the crime of "snatch theft" should be separated from the offence of "theft" and "robbery" will impose a lot of legal discussion in order to ensure public safety. The main and crucial issue to be discussed here is that whether the offence of "theft" and "robbery" sufficiently address the offence of "snatch theft". In other words, whether or not the elements of the two offences, which are already in the Penal Code are sufficient to be raised for a person who commits snatch theft. In order to tackle this issue, the elements of "theft", which is under section 378 of the Penal Code and the elements of "robbery" which is under section 390 of the Penal Code have to be analyzed one by one. First and foremost, we would like to discuss the elements of "theft" which is under section 378 of the Penal Code. The said provision defines theft as "Whoever,...
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