How to Defend Against Snatch Theft

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On Oct 30, 2013, in a town, central of Sarawak, Malaysia named Sibu, a 53 year old lady was walking to her car after leaving from a beauty salon. It was a weekly affair for her to receive facial treatment every Wednesday night.

It was just behind the covered car park of Sibu Town Square or Wisma Sanyan when it happened. And she wasn’t alone.

Completely in the dark, a motorcycle came up by the duo and a strong arm snatched her handbag. In a car park without lights, Lee and her friend could only tell that there was a pillion rider, but they couldn’t see the faces of the two criminals. Lee Sing Kiew fell and sustained serious injuries on the back of her head, rendering her unconscious.

Mdm Lee slipped into coma thereafter and did not regain consciousness until January 2016.

Credits: The Star Online,


Just 4 days prior, Oct 26, 2013 – 22 year old college student Dickson Wong was near a convenience store early in the morning near Taman Mayang, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia – when he was mobbed by four men on motorcycles.

Dickon was not that fortunate. He was hit on the head and slipped into coma. 3 days later, Oct 28, 2013 – Monday, at the University Malaya Medical Center (UMMC) Dickson passed away without regaining consciousness.

How did these snatch thefts became fatal? Could something have been done to prevent these from happening in the first place?

With all due respect to the victims, here are some of the key points you should remember so that you, or your loved ones, do not become the next victim.

If you have not read the “4 Stages in Self Defence”, you should because in Mdm Lee’s case, extra vigilance and precaution should have been taken as they walk into a covered car park without lights. If at all possible, avoid such situations even. Take a longer route if you have to.


Next, always keep your belongings or handbag away from the road. Just by putting it on the inner side, makes it a lot more difficult for motorcycle snatch thieves to pull a quick (and forceful one) on you.

Remember what they really want, isn’t injuring you. They want your valuables FAST – without being caught or recognized.

When the snatch theft happens, you really have two choices. One is to let go, another is to protect your valuables (especially if they are important enough to take the risk). At SDRI, although we do teach people how to defend themselves, but it is always clear to us that our safety and survival outweighs the valuables. So if our valuables can guarantee us a safe passage, why not?

But of course, who wouldn’t want to secure both our valuables and our safety? So that’s what we are here for.

Step 1: Sink your weight downwards, and slightly backwards, not completely. Your center of gravity should be focused around your abdomen and as you sink downwards, you want to land on your butt with your spine upright or slightly tilted to the rear. Almost as if you are doing a deep squat, keep your feet open.

What you do not want is to tilt so much backwards that the back of your head hits the ground. Tuck in your chin into your neck to reduce the chances of that happening. And this is why in Intermediate Mastery Package, SDRI teaches breaking fall.

The reason why this method works and may most probably result in the pillion falling off the motorcycle is because they are no longer pulling along just your handbag. They are pulling your bodyweight – almost like an anchored rock. Be it a running snatch thief or a pillion rider, their center of gravity is definitely pretty high up and easily knocked off balance.

If the fall for the pillion rider isn’t shocking enough for them, then you should be prepared to either run away without engaging (which we highly recommend) or you should adopt a generic defensive stance with both hands raised high up near your head level and slightly away from your body to create distance. Elbows tucked, not pointing outwards, feet staggered front and back with slightly beyond shoulder width – knees bent.

Credits: Patch

Keep both your palms open for quick response, as well as to psychologically inform them that you really don’t want to do this, but they will be sorry if they continued advancing.

And really, if you are a snatch thief, would you try your luck somewhere else, or take the risk being beaten up by this person who looks like she knows what she is doing – and risk jail-time?

OK – so if they do proceed their advancements, then refer to our previous article “3 Vital Areas That Can Save Your Life”. It covers where are their soft spots and how you can hit them. We strongly suggest neck, eyes and groin.


What you shouldn’t do is to stand upright because the directional force will result you in falling forward. You may injure yourself badly, or worse, getting tangled up and dragged along by the motorcycle.

What you shouldn’t do also is to sling the bag across your shoulders. While it is harder to snatch it away from you, not only you can let go quickly, you might also end up getting choked at your neck by the handbag strap.

Do not wrap your bag around your wrists around the strap too, there’s a high chance you will dislocate or break your arm in the process. What you can do is to press your handbag to your body using your elbows while holding on the strap in your hands.