In less than 10 seconds, a thief had broken into his car, started the engine and driven it away.
Mr Nolan Khoo, 32, yesterday told The Straits Times of his shock when his Honda Civic was stolen in broad daylight at a carpark outside Tebrau City, a popular shopping mall in Johor Baru, on Monday.
The theft was caught on a store's surveillance camera. Mr Khoo, an assistant manager at a logistics firm, posted a 26-second CCTV video on Facebook which shows a white car stopping next to his car before a man gets out, unlocks the driver-side door of Mr Khoo's grey six-year-old car and drives it away.
Responding to comments on his post, which has been viewed more than 25,000 times so far, Mr Khoo speculated that the thief could have had "some sort of master key and remote". He said he was on a three-day holiday with his wife and had parked the car while they went for a meal. "We go to JB quite regularly, about two or three times a month, and this is the first time something like that has happened to us."
He added it could take up to three months for his insurer to reimburse him for the car, which he bought second-hand about 11/2 years ago for about $76,000.
He said he had an iPad and $400 cash in the car, but they were hidden from sight. He said Johor police have told him the chances of recovering his car are "50-50" as it would likely have been exported. "I'm in shock at how fast the thief managed to commit the crime," he said.
Mr Evert Khoo, CEO of Cartrack Technologies, said such thefts are quite common, especially with cars that use keyless technology to unlock and start the cars.
"The thieves roam around big carparks with a computer in their car that scrambles radio frequency ID codes. Once they get a match, they can unlock and steal the car," said Mr Khoo, whose company installs tracking devices in cars and tracks them down in the event of a theft.
"Usually, these stolen cars would be driven to a 'chop shop', a workshop that takes out all the spare parts. It's easier for thieves to dispose of parts individually."
Experts say motorists can install devices such as car alarms, steering wheel locks and GPS trackers. Mr Adrian Ho, who runs Uber Garage, said: "All these little things, they add up to deter car thieves, or take them longer to steal it."