Car stolen in Johor Baru returned to Singapore owner with help from netizens

After Mr Joe Ong's white Honda was stolen on July 5, he and his brother, Eric Ong, posted a public appeal online for help to locate his car.
After Mr Joe Ong's white Honda was stolen on July 5, he and his brother, Eric Ong, posted a public appeal online for help to locate his car. PHOTO: ERIC ONG / FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - In a remarkable case of online sleuthing, a Singapore-registered car that was stolen in Johor Baru was returned to its owner, and the suspected car thief nabbed .

After Mr Joe Ong's white Honda was stolen on July 5, he and his brother, Eric Ong, posted a public appeal online for help to locate his car.

Then, on July 24, a white Honda was caught on camera driving off without paying after topping up petrol in Port Dickson. The video was widely shared online.

Netizens who saw the appeal and the video put two and two together, and the car was tracked down in Malacca where the suspected car thief was caught.

The intriguing twists and turns of how the car was lost and recovered was recounted by the car owner's brother Mr Eric Ong on Facebook.

Car owner Mr Joe Ong had left his white Honda Civic at a car wash near KSL City Mall in Johor Baru at around 6pm on July 5. When he returned to collect it at 10pm, he was told that the vehicle had been driven off by his "friends" at around 6.30pm. A credit card, which was in the car, was used twice.

By tracking the use of the credit card, Mr Eric Ong obtained a video of the suspect using it at a Johor Baru mall.

On July 7, he responded to online feedback to his appeal, and wrote "we know chances of retrieving the car is slim".

Then, on Saturday (July 25), people alerted Mr Joe Ong to the video of a car that was making a dash for it after failing to pay for petrol in Port Dickson.

Although the car number plate was changed, Mr Ong recognised his car.

The car was next spotted in Malacca on Sunday (July 26). Netizens in Malacca posted the whereabouts of the car on a Facebook page for motorists in the Malaysian city, China Press reported.

It was reportedly seen near a school, and a mall, and then parked at the Herald Hotel. A police report was made, the China Press report said.

Mr Eric Ong posted another appeal on Facebook for anyone in the area to help them intercept the car and its driver.

Later on Sunday, Mr Eric Ong posted a message of gratitude on Facebook with the news that the car had been found.

The Straits Times is attempting to reach Mr Joe Ong to find out more details about the incident.