KOTA KINABALU: The swift and professional conduct of Kota Kinabalu police received top marks from an American tourist, who was effusive in expressing his gratitude for the swift action in nabbing a fellow tourist just hours after he lost his tablet computer at a backpacker lodge here recently.
Jahmar Taylor, 24, from Philadelphia, USA, became a theft victim when a 29-year-old tourist from Finland allegedly stole his tablet computer at the Borneo Global Backpackers lodge in Sadong Jaya between 2 am and 3 am on July 30.
According to Taylor, he checked into the backpacker lodge on July 29 and befriended the Finnish tourist as they were sharing the same dormitory together with six other fellow tourists.
“The Finnish tourist was friendly and since we were both tourists sharing the same dormitory with six other tourists, we became acquainted. I even shared some of my pizza with him for dinner as we shared our travel experience together.
“Just before midnight, on July 29, I set up my tablet computer to be charged just outside our dormitory as there were not enough electrical sockets in the room.
“When I got up the next morning, I discovered that my tablet computer is missing and initially thought that someone was playing a joke on me.
“I then informed the management and upon checking the recording of the close circuit-television (CCTV) camera, we saw the action of the Finnish tourist stealing my tablet computer before checking out from the lodge on the same day,” he related, when met yesterday.
The CCTV footage showed that the Finnish tourist had not only taken the tablet computer, but had also packed his personal belongings into another backpack and then leaving the lodge in a hurry.
“The Finnish tourist left his original backpack and his slippers in the room, presumably to indicate that he was still around and had never left the lodge.
“A couple of hours later, a fellow tourist told me that she saw the Finnish tourist wandering in the city centre and when I informed Borneo Global Backpackers manager, Malcolm Wong, he immediately assisted me to lodge a police report at the city police headquarters on the same day,” Taylor said.
The police, Taylor said, conducted their investigation into the case professionally and had even taken steps to alert the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 on the case with a description of the Finnish tourist, in case he tried to slip away.
Several hours later, the Finnish tourist was spotted at the Borneo Beach House Backpackers lodge in Tanjung Aru, fitting the description forwarded by the Sabah Backpackers Association (SBA) to their members.
“When we arrived at the lodge in Tanjung Aru, we found out that the Finnish tourist had checked into the lodge. When he was confronted by the police, he claimed that I had sold him the tablet computer for EUR150. He also acted arrogant in front of the police and demanded that they speed up their investigation as he had a flight to catch,” said Taylor.
The Finnish tourist was however detained and taken to the police headquarters for further investigation and has been remanded since.
Although this was the first incident that has ever happened to him as a tourist, Taylor claimed that he would not let the experience ruin his holiday and would continue to enjoy his stay in Sabah.
“I am just thankful that I got back my tablet computer as all my pictures that were taken during my whole trip here in Malaysia and other countries were in it.
“I would also like to thank the Kota Kinabalu police, especially the investigating officer, for their professional conduct and swift action in solving my case,” Taylor stated, adding that his next destination would be the Philippines on August 8.
Meanwhile, Sabah Backpackers Association (SBA) president, Richie Lee, said he was informed of the incident by his vice-president, Malcolm Wong, and immediately sent out details and description of the Finnish tourist suspect to their SBA members.
“SBA has fellow members in the backpackers industry and once we received the information, we immediately alerted our members.
“Coincidentally, the Finnish tourist suspect checked into one of my lodge just minutes before my staff received the information and description from SBA.
“My staff then proceeded to inform the police which led to the arrest of the Finnish tourist suspect on the same day,” he said.
Lee thanked his staff and SBA members for their quick action and urged them to continue the cooperation and fellowship in the future.