S'porean actor Desmond Tan ambushed by 4 men in Bali, robbed of phone

He's safely back in Singapore.

Mandy How| March 16, 05:13 PM

On Mar. 6, Desmond Tan uploaded a photo of his pouting self to Instagram.

But it was not the usual selfie on his feed.

Instead, the actor had gotten robbed in Bali, and had his phone stolen in the process.

He warned friends to be wary of weird messages that appear to be from him, and said that he was using a friend's phone to upload the post.


A few days later on Mar. 9, Tan reported that he was safely back in Singapore.

Meanwhile, he was still using his friend's phone, and told his followers that he would be getting a new one soon.


Ran into four robbers at night

While the posts might make it seem like a blip in an otherwise pleasant vacation, reality was far more dangerous.

In response to Mothership, Tan said that the robbery occurred on his second day in Bali.

The day had started "well", according to Tan.

The actor had a great lunch and subsequently spent a day at the beach enjoying live music.

After dinner, however, the pleasant day went downhill quick.

As Tan was riding his motorbike (his usual mode of transport in Bali) back to his villa, he was ambushed by four robbers who were travelling via two motorbikes.

One of the bikes rode to Tan's side, where the robbers snatched the actor's phone out of his friend's hand.

Tan's vehicle experienced a slight bump, but he managed to keep his balance.

"It was an ambush set up along a straight road. [...] I was in shock for a moment before I realised what just happened."

Immediately, Tan shouted and gave chase, but was slowed down by the two robbers on the second bike.

"They pointed at us and gave me a death stare. That was when I realised we were outnumbered and not worth the fight in an ambushed area of their territory."

Sharing his experience

Tan made a police report on the same night, and discovered that there were a few others who had been robbed as well.

The actor said that there are number of steps one can take after being robbed overseas, which he learned after researching online.

This includes cancelling the sim card, cancelling any credit cards linked to apps in the phone, and calling the embassy.

"A comprehensive checklist for Singaporean victims will be helpful to help them [in their] state of shock and [to give] a certain level of comfort," he added.

Another point that the actor emphasised is to back up the data on one's phone, which he encourages everyone to do so frequently.

"Also, through my experience, I wish to remind everyone that backing up of the phone's data is 100% necessary. We are now more reliant on phones than ever, some of us hardly even use our computers nowadays or some don't even own a computer."

The greatest loss

About one week after the harrowing episode and days of interrupted sleep, Tan is "feeling much better".

As it was his first time being robbed, everything felt "unreal" for the first couple of days. In fact, everything happened so fast that the details are quite hazy in his mind's eye.

"I tried very hard to recall [what] they look like, what are the number plates, how were they dressed but everything is so hazy because everything happened so quickly and in the dark."

When asked how he is coping with the loss of his phone, Tan says he misses his photos the most.

"It feels like I've lost a family photo book or a diary? Other than my personal photos, I've also lost those precious memories (physical memories) with my colleagues for every project I've done as well as some recent overseas work trip. Many precious stories that I'm about to share with my fans in the coming month are now all gone."

His friends and colleagues, however, are just glad that he's physically well.

The Chinese comment translates to, "The most important thing is that you're safe, it's critical to look after your health during this period!"

Tan is also grateful for all the love and support he has received:

Top image via Desmond Tan's Instagram page