Malaysia arrests 12 for heist of 1,400 Galaxy Note 2 devices

Only about 70 handsets recovered so far nearly two weeks after they were stolen from the airport cargo area, a day after the Samsung smartphone's launch.

Malaysian police have arrested 12 people for the theft of some 1,400 Samsung Galaxy Note 2 devices worth a total 3.23 million ringgit (US$1.05 million), which took place just a day after the product became available in the country.

AFP reported Tuesday, citing a police official, that the smartphones were stolen on Oct. 20 from the cargo area of Kuala Lumpur International airport where the shipments arrived. The device was launched in Malaysia on Oct. 19.

Syed Ismail Syed Azizan, federal commercial crimes investigation chief, said the 12 people were arrested in raids conducted around the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, most of whom were believed to have planned the theft together.

About 70 devices had been recovered and police were trying to track down the rest, he added.

Three of those facing charges were alleged buyers of the stolen smartphones who paid less than the official retail price of 2,299 ringgit (US$752), AFP noted.

A separate report by New Straits Times Wednesday said among the 12, three forwarding agents were charged yesterday at the Sessions Court for the crime, and pleaded not guilty.

The punishment for theft in a building, if convicted, is a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine, the Malaysian daily said.

Six others, including a woman, who worked in mobile phone shops in Puchong, Sepang, Seremban and Kuala Lumpur, were charged with retaining the stolen property and selling the smartphones, it added.

Those convicted of receiving and retaining stolen property are liable to a jail term of up to five years, a fine or both, while the maximum penalty for disposing of items believed to be stolen is seven years' imprisonment, a fine or both, the news report said.