Home > TEENAGERS > Risk Taking Behaviour > Violent Behaviours > Snatch Theft – Dont Be A Victim

Snatch Theft – Dont Be A Victim


Snatch theft is a criminal act. It is an act of forcefully stealing from a pedestrian while employing rob-and-run tactics.

A growing problem in Malaysia, some instances of snatch theft have caused fatalities, when the person holding onto the handbag has been dragged by the motorbike or through subsequent acts of violence.


Fast, sneaky and almost undetectable. These are the traits of an experienced snatch thief. They can work alone or as a team and their ‘prey’ are usually unsuspecting victims, who are more often than not alone, occupied and unaware of their surroundings.

Editable vector illustration of two men working together as pickpockets

  It is typical for two thieves to work together and ride a motorcycle to make theft and escape easier. A person steers the vehicle while another does the act of theft itself. However, some snatch thieves work alone or do not use a motorcycle to rob.



Diamonds are a girl’s best friends. But sometimes it’s better to leave your ‘friends’ in a safer place. Snatch thieves would never miss the opportunity to make you a victim when you show off a lot of jewellery.


Sometimes when we’re chatting away on our phones, we tend to lose focus on our surroundings, and that’s when snatch thieves strike. Keep the phone calls short and stay alert at all times.


A snatch thief’s favourite catch especially when it’s easily exposed. Ladies, always remember to clutch your handbag under your arm TIGHTLY rather than letting it hang freely on your shoulders.

Purse snatcher

cp_pursesnatcher_c Art Parts Clip Art Photograph Royalty Free


  • Snatch thieves prefer to strike on deserted roads or lanes, where there aren’t many people around.
  • However, ia snatch theft can happen on the busiest of streets, regardless day or night, so just be sure to know your surroundings and take extra precautions to protect yourself.
  • The snatch thief may approach a victim pretending to strike up a conversation or seeking assistance e.g. asking for directions or time.
  • Snatching the handbag from behind the victim
  • Purposely soiling the victim’s clothing and offering to clean dirt stains on it
  • Telling the victim that his/ her wallet or money has dropped on the floor.


How To Avoid Snatch Thieves

  • Avoid walking alone at lonely places or near lift landings. Do not take short cuts through dark or deserted areas/ back streets
  • Be wary of persons who follow or distract you
  • Carry your handbag in front of you or clasp it firmly under your arm.
  • Never leave your belongings (handbag, bags, phones, tablets, etc) unattended, especially in crowded place like shopping centres, restaurants and hawker centres
  • Always walk facing oncoming traffic if possible. so you are able to see what’s in front
  • Hold your handbag on the side away from the motorists.
  • Avoid wearing excessive jewellery or carrying large amount of cash.
  • Do not show off or flaunt cash and valuables in public view.
  • Strength In Numbers
    Keep yourself guarded, protected, safe and secure as long and as often as you can. If you are out with friends, try to arrive and leave as a group. For example, you and 3 of your  friends each drove separate cars to watch an evening show. After that, the 3 of you should get into the 4th person’s car TOGETHER and have him/her drop each one of you one by one at your respective cars, making sure each time the person is safely inside the car with the doors locked, lights on and engines running before dropping the next one. Stay sharp and observant.
  • Using common sense when driving alone. Do not put your handbags, purse, laptop, briefcase, cell phone in the passenger seat.


Always put  your pepper spray, knives and keys in places easily accessible to you in a split second.


Everyone has them. Most have sharp edges and can cause cuts if done right. The two grips above are the only correct ways of gripping your keys. Remember to clench your fist real tightly so that it cannot be used back against you.


Useful, light, sharp and passes through any security check. Although a traditional all-steel ballpoint would be more effective than the cheap plastic ones. Again, it can cause harm if done right. All you need to do is grip it like the picture above. Remember to grip the pen as tight as you can.

Pepper Spray

Pepper spray causes inflammation of the capillaries of the eyes and skin causing temporary blindness, nausea, breathing difficulties and an intense burning sensation. It is small and very easy to carry around. It is the best self defense weapon against snatch thieves, PROVIDED you are more prepared and faster than him.

When using it, always keep your eyes open! You may have to correct your aim slightly. You should shoot the spray for 2 to 3 seconds. After shooting your pepper spray, the assailant will normally stop within seconds, blinded and virtually helpless due to uncontrollable coughing spasms. Once the assailant disables, stop spraying and continue to be aware of your surrounding as there may be an assistant nearby.

Small Knife

Can cause serious hurt. Also, definitely an item that will draw attention during security checks. Again, this can cause critical injuries and remember to always grip it tightly.


  1. https://unitedagainstcrime.com.my/files/snatchtheft_A4.pdf” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>https://unitedagainstcrime.com.my/files/snatchtheft_A4.pdf
  2. Snatch Theft | Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation http://www.mcpf.org.my/v3/node/36″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>http://www.mcpf.org.my/v3/node/36
  3. http://famouschris.com/how-to-protect-yourself-and-deal-with-snatch-thieves/”>How To Protect Yourself And Deal With Snatch Thieves famouschris.com/how-to-protect-yourself-and-deal-with-snatch-thieves/
Last Reviewed : 30 November 2015
Writer : Datin Dr. Zil Falillah binti Mohd Said
Accreditor : Dr. Nazrila Hairin binti Nasir