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Malaysian phone thief caught on Facebook Live

Malaysia isn’t the safest place for smombies, but one Facebook Live user may recover his phone after a snatch theft.

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You could end up helping to solve crimes simply by tuning in to your friend's live broadcast.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Facebook Live came under fire earlier this year because too many violent videos were appearing on the platform. This time, however, it could be used to help fight crime.

A man in Malaysia had his phone snatched by two thieves while he was broadcasting his neighbourhood's Hari Raya Haji celebrations live on Facebook over the weekend, local publication New Straits Times reported Saturday. Hari Raya Haji refers to the Muslim festival of sacrifice.

Here's the twist: One of the thieves' faces was caught on camera while the video continued to stream. The 78-second video, which shows some of the festivities followed by the tussle between the thieves and the victim before the thieves make off with the phone, has gone viral on Facebook.

Facebook has faced backlash over the rising number of videos depicting crimes on the social network. These include a hate crime in Chicago and a Thai man who streamed himself killing his daughter. Previous live videos, however, were intentional, unlike this particular case.

Although one of the thieves had his face exposed to the public, it doesn't mean the victim will definitely get his phone back. The local police force told the papers that the event hasn't been reported. Police haven't identified the snatch thief who appeared on camera, although they're looking for more information on the incident.

Petty crimes are not uncommon in Malaysia and especially in its capital, where this case occurred. The city of Kuala Lumpur is ranked 26th out of 334 cities surveyed on internet database Numbeo's Crime Index. Local police also warned about rising cases of snatch theft in the city in May, saying more than 365 cases were reported in just five months.

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