KOTA KINABALU September 19, 2012: Having many friends in the right places including those from social network site paid off for Sabah businessman Chong Meng Choon in his bid to track down his stolen four-wheel-drive pick-up truck.
Tapping the many friends and contacts that he has, Chong finally found his vehicle in a remote settlement in the Indonesian province of Kaliman-tan weeks after it disappeared.
Chong's Toyota Hilux truck was stolen from his hometown of Keningau last July.
After reporting the theft to police, he tapped into his network of friends, particularly four-wheel-drive enthusiasts as well as those on Facebook to help find his truck.
“I had a feeling that if I tried hard enough, I would find my truck,” said Chong.
His break came several weeks later when some friends in the northern Sarawak town of Lawas near the Sabah border told him that they had seen his truck being driven to the highland settlement of Ba'kelalan.
The information was enough for Chong, his brother Kim San and Tenom Four Wheel Drive club president Victor Lim to set off on a journey through some of the toughest terrain in Borneo.
With the help of more friends, Chong located his truck at the Indonesian settlement of Long Bawan. The three took just about 48 hours to get there from Keningau through Lawas and Ba'kelalan.
In Long Bawan, Chong approached Indonesian police. After he showed proof that the truck was his, police immediately took possession of the vehicle and arranged for it to be sent to the Malaysian border at Ba'kelalan.
The experience has led Chong to believe that more four-wheel-drive vehicles stolen from Sabah have found their way across the Malaysian-Indonesian border.
“We saw a number of trucks being driven around the area that were similar to those in Sabah,” he said.
The going price for stolen trucks across the border was said to be about RM15,000.
Sabah police CID chief Senior Asst Comm Omar Mammah said they were cracking down on groups that were targeting four-wheel-drive vehicles in the state to be sold in neighbouring countries.
“Some of the vehicles could also be stolen to be cannibalised for parts,” he said.
Omar said police were making some progress in their investigations as they recently found some backdoor routes used by syndicates to transport the stolen vehicles to remote settlements.
By RUBEN SARIO