JOHOR BARU: The Region Two Marine Police Force (PPM) crippled a theft syndicate operating at sea while arresting four Indonesians along the Straits of Johor near Benut on Wednesday morning.
PPM commander ACP Paul Khiu Khon Chiang said a special team comprising 10 members, spotted one boat which carried another two fishing boats, near the site at 3.30am on March 4.
He said that after chasing the boat at sea for almost 20 minutes, the four men aboard were arrested by the police.
He said based on initial investigations, one unidentified suspect is believed to have jumped into the sea, before his boat was forced to stop by the police. The whereabouts of the escapee is presently still unknown.
He said the suspects are believed to be from Bengkalis, Riau province, Indonesia. Bengkalis, a small island near Pontian, is about 7 and 20 nautical miles at different points between islands along Malaysia’s coast, and takes about two hours to reach by fishing boat.
ACP Khiu said fishing boats and their fishing equipment were the syndicate’s targets.
Police believe the syndicate is involved in 18 cases of stolen fishing boats, fishing nets and fishing related equipment in coastal areas close to Pontian, Batu Pahat and Muar.
All the suspects did not have any travel documents and are being remanded until March 18 by the Pontian police to facilitate investigations.
Police recovered three fibre-type boats, including the boat the suspects were aboard. Each boat costs about RM10,000.
Police seized four outboard engines, parang (machetes) and big cutters.
Paul said the suspects face robbery charges under Section 379 of the Penal Code.
Also seized were two bottles filled with petrol, which could be used as molotov cocktails, a deadly and fiery explosive. Possession is an offence under the Dangerous Firearms Act 1958.