I always hear a lot of talk about how Sentul is a crime-infested, dirty hell hole. How it’s full of Indian people and the accompanying racist links to crime.

Some of these talkers make KL sound like New York, and Sentul its Bronx equivalent. To keep the conversation going, I agree, then I tell them how I sometimes drive around town with the seat way down, one hand on the wheel, and two minutes later, shoot at a 7-eleven and break out into rap with 2Pac and Ludacris.

Of course, i’m not saying there’s no crime here, there’s heaps of it. In fact, I started thinking about this the other day when I had to drive through a gang fight on my way to jogging. No, I’m not kidding.

Gang fights don’t happen a lot, but they do happen. One of the more memorable ones happened a few Chinese New Years ago just outside the market.

You can never tell who’s in a gang and who’s not. All of a sudden, two huge swarms of people just appeared out of nowhere and started chopping at the enemy. Old women wearing saris on their bodies and rage on their faces were wielding parangs just like the younger guys, the whole thing was a mess.

One minute you’re buying broccoli and the next there’s blood everywhere and you’re vamoosing the fuck out of there trying to avoid adding to the severed limbs on the street.

That’s how some of them fight, anyway. Other gangsters prefer not to make a scene, and you only hear about what happened the next day.

My neighbour the loan shark, for example, is a real family man and cool guy. You see him spending a lot of time with his kids, smiling at you, doing the school run. But at night, he takes care of gangster business and kicks the shit out of people who owe him money.

Then there are the break-ins. Most occur while you’re out, but if you’re unlucky, they’ll get you while you’re asleep. If you wake up, you’re fucked.

Just a few examples from around my neighbourhood: my next door neighbour had a balcony built outside her window and the robbers must’ve thought Christmas had come early. They hopped onto that, broke the door, tied her up, and stole a shit ton of stuff. Her parents slept through the whole incident.

And that’s mild. Some are pretty gruesome. Once, during a break in, a whole family was murdered in broad daylight and the robber only took their laptop. Probably really needed to harvest his crops on Farmville.

Of course, there’s the usual snatch thieves, pickpockets, and conmen — but those guys are everywhere and not really worth mentioning.

So now all of you are probably thinking it’s worse than the Bronx, and why would people still want to live here. But really, it’s not so bad, let me continue.

Have you noticed the increased presence of security guards in housing areas such as Taman Tun and Bandar Utama? There’s usually one at the main entrance to a bunch of houses. It’s weird how people seem to take comfort in the fact that these guys will keep them safe.

Fact is, most of those guards will let anybody in. Sorry to burst your bubble, but this method of security really sucks. Even the requirement to register their details in a book is not going to stop them from using a fake ID, pulling up outside your house, opening the gate (that you left unlocked because you “live in a secure location”), and pointing a knife at you. If anything, having guards outside is just confirmation to robbers that there’s stuff inside worth protecting. It’s a false sense of security, a waste of money, and a state of denial.

And you know what? Despite the crazy amount of crime, no neighbourhood in Sentul has employed this “security” measure. Robbers have to do their homework because we don’t really have a marked “rich zone” – rich people are scattered everywhere. Really rich people live in places you wouldn’t imagine, but that’s a story for another time. You won’t see state of the art alarm systems or CCTV outside the bigger houses either.

So how do we protect ourselves? By being human, that’s how.

Since the dawn of civilisation, humans have learnt to protect themselves by keeping close ties with their community for news on what’s going on around them. How do you think man in 10,000 BC knew when a tiger was going to attack him? He didn’t have a sophisticated tiger alarm, he just stayed alert, like the rest of the village, and they kept each other safe.

Like those guys, a lot of people in Sentul just keep it real. They talk to each other regularly about stuff that happens, apply the simple concept of crime prevention by trendspotting, and make time to look out for one another.

Crime is an unavoidable part of life, as is loss. All you can do is be on the lookout, and when it happens, act a fool.