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Crime & Security in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur is a bustling, vibrant city, and becoming more sophisticated. However, similar to most cities in developing nations, it is not without its problems and these are increasing with Kuala Lumpur's rapid pace of growth.

Crime is not rampant in Kuala Lumpur. The perception of crime is high, but in recent years the Malaysian police have managed to reduce crime significantly in and around urban Kuala Lumpur. Reports of violent crime against foreigners are uncommon but instances of pickpocketing and bag snatching have risen in recent years. Kuala Lumpur is considered a very safe city for travellers; very often, it is locals who are targets of a crime), but do be wary of over-friendly locals trying to con you. In recent years, City Hall has increased the amount of foot and car patrols by policemen in Kuala Lumpur. It's also common in the daytime to see traffic police on the streets in the city centre. Tourist police have also set up police booths and maintain frequent foot patrol in the tourist areas of the city particularly around the Golden Triangle area with its greater density of hotels, shopping malls, foreign tourists and locals. There are also scattered regular roadblocks in and around KL at night set up by the police to do checks on illegal racing, drunk driving and general transport transgressions.

Generally, it is safe and rewarding to walk in the city but caution must still be exercised, especially if walking alone or in a small group. Beware of snatch thieves who are known to be rather ruthless. It is not uncommon to hear of women, particularly, being knocked unconscious by bag snatchers on motorbikes. It is probably better to let them have your bag than to be dragged several metres and risk injury. Keep a close eye on your valuables in crowds, especially street markets and public transport (especially during rush hour), and hold your bag on the side away from the street if there are motorbikes around to avoid 'bag snatching'. Try not to wear any flashy jewellery in the first place. If you don't have to wear it, it's best not to. Care must also be taken with any alleyways or parking grounds that appear to be dark and deserted. Petty thieves with knives or sometimes even small firearms might mug you, especially at night.

Be careful of the poker scam run by people pretending to be locals. They normally target lone tourists around the popular tourist places. It starts with a friendly approach, and you will end up at their homes at the pretext of trying to get first hand information of your home country. You will then be invited to play poker and will eventually accumulate losses. You will then be made to pay up with cash or jewellery purchases. Never go to someone's house if you meet that person on holiday. Some have been duped through couchsurfing and ended up being similarly scammed.

The bogus cop scam is usually run by Middle-Easterners. You will be stopped by "plain-clothed police officers" on the pretext of checking your travel documents. You will be brought to a secluded area in the process and made to handover your wallet. Should you be stopped, you have the right to insist that you be taken to the nearest police station before saying/showing anything.

Taxis are generally safe, but they often refuse to use the meter and a few cab drivers will gouge tourists mercilessly. If they refuse to use the meter, then take another taxi, as by law they are required to use the meter. However, if you are desperate to use that taxi, always agree on the fare in advance, and try to get an estimate of the cost from a local before you climb on board. Many also pretend to not know your hotel and will bring you to their preferred hotels by saying that your hotel is in a bad area, closed or far. A good idea would be to buy a public transport map and get well acquainted with the locations of stations, train times, etc. If you can use a train or bus to get to a place, it would be cheaper and safer to do so.





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