KOTA BARU – An elderly woman lost around RM20,000 when her handbag, containing jewelry and RM3,000 cash, was snatched while she was praying at a mosque in Masjid Kota, Kota Bharu, on Tuesday.

The incident occurred at 6.33am while the 74-year-old woman was performing her Subuh prayers.

The theft was captured on the mosque’s CCTV system. The mosque is fitted with 12 CCTVs.

Masjid Kota imam, Muhamad Lokman Zakaria, said the woman, who was praying while seated on a chair, realised the thief pulling her handbag, which was placed under the seat.

“The woman, being elderly and frail, was praying while seated. She had placed her bag under the chair, thinking that it was secure.

“She however, realised that someone had pulled her bag away. She managed to grab hold of the thief’s hand before yelling for help.

“Her plea for help was heard by several men, who paused their prayers to chase the thief but were unsuccessful,” he told Harian Metro.

Muhamad Lokman, 35, said based on the CCTV recording, the thief had initially tried to grab a handbag belonging to a woman in the back row. The thief was foiled when the woman performed the ‘sujud’ (prostration) and covered the bag.

“During the second ‘sujud’, that was when the thief moved two rows up to take the elderly woman’s bag.

This isn’t the mosque’s first encounter with thieves, having lost its loudspeaker system to thieves last year.

Muhamad Lokman advised mosque-goers to leave their valuables at home.

“What I am disappointed with most is that such a thing is happening in our place of worship, whereas other places of worship do not face this problem,” he said.

Meanwhile, the elderly woman, who declined to be identified, said she brought the cash and jewellery as she was afraid of leaving them at home unattended.

“This is fated, and there’s a blessing behind it. This episode however has not hampered my resolve to come to the mosque, only next time, I won’t be bringing a bag,” she said.