How common is purse snatching and backpack-slashing in South East Asia?

So, I have read a couple of horror stories that tells you all about the purse snatching business, especially in Southeast Asia and of course the slashing where they cut your backpack or bag with razors…

I just want to know how common these type of crime is right now in SEA. Is this something that you need to keep in mind all the time, or are they rare?

I mean if you dont put yourself at risk by:

  1. leaving your things unattended
  2. showing valuables

I wouldn’t leave my things unattended anywhere in the world, having said that I haven’t noticed SEA as particularly dangerous. If you use common sense everything is fine.

Regarding valuables, I can only speak for my MacBook and my DSLR as “valuable” and everything was fine also, tons of people with both. Again, you must use common sense for when and where to take things out.

It’s never happened to me all over Asia, although I got many warnings in Vietnam about it. So my anecdotal evidence suggests it’s not so bad.

Maybe it also has to do with how you look etc. My parents always get scammed when traveling (e.g. Barcelona), but it’s because they’re a bit older and always visit the tourist areas. I avoid the tourist areas like the plague, resulting in less pickpocketing, less scams.

Backpack slashing I haven’t heard of (unlike in South America where it’s pretty common). Motorbike gangs snatching small bags (generally female handbags) is something I have heard of in Vietnam which might be a consideration if you’re carrying the DSLR in a shoulder bag on busy Hanoi/Saigon streets. There are rumours about stashed luggage being rifled through by some of the more unscrupulous long distance bus operators (though your valuables should be in a day pack on your person anyway) and beach huts occasionally get broken into

The tradeoff is that you’re probably less likely to be mugged than most Western cities, If your valuables sit in a day pack which is securely strapped to your back or front, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about.

As a rule of thumb, I found there’s less crime in Asia than in the Americas, and Western Europe. I’d be interested to know what horror stories you’ve read.
You have some violent crime in some parts of the Philippines, and plenty of (non-violent) scams in the touristy parts of Vietnam and Thailand (long distance busses). But with those notable and well known exceptions, I’d classify crime as rare.

Having been robbed a few times, I tend to leave valuables in the hotel/hostel now anyways, but I’ve found SEA to be safe all in all.

I live in Malaysia and yes it does happen and they are very creative about it too. If you do drive a car in Malaysia never ever place your bag in view. I usually put it under the seat. Why? Thieves can break your window n snatch your bag.