Man breaks into vacant junior colleges to steal wires & electrical cables, repairs cost S$1.24 million

He committed 11 instances of house-breaking theft, over a period of around 6 months from Oct. 2019 to April 2020.

Hannah Martens | December 21, 2022, 10:21 PM

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A 32-year-old Bangladeshi man pleaded guilty on Tuesday, Dec. 20, to four charges of house-breaking to commit theft.

Another 10 charges will be taken into consideration.

The man, whose name is Miah Shobus, had intended to claim trial but pleaded guilty a day before it was scheduled to start.

In 2020, Shobus and two accomplices, fellow Bangladeshi Jan Shak Mohabbat and Singaporean Om Shakti Tiwari, broke into two vacant Ministery of Education-owned campuses -- Jurong Junior College (JJC) and Tampines Junior College (TPJC).

They then stripped the schools of copper wires and electrical cables to sell to recycling shops for a profit.

The total cost of repairs to the two schools amounted to S$1.24 million.

Stole wires

In January 2020, Tiwari drove them to the vacant JJC in a rented car. While Tiwari waited by the car, Shobus and Mohabbat climbed over the perimeter fence.

Shobus and Mohabbat entered the main consumer switch room by breaking the padlock to the room.

The two proceeded to work together to cut copper wires and wire them up. They then transported the wires to Tiwari's car, and all three drove off.

The trio returned later that same month to JJC and stole more copper wires.

In mid-January 2020, there was a power trip at the guard room at the former JJC campus.

A technician came out to check and discovered that around 1,000m of copper wires were missing from JJC's main consumer switch room.

The missing copper wires were valued at around S$20,000.

In March 2020, the three men went to the vacant TPJC campus at around 3:40am.

Shobus and Mohabbat entered the school through a hole in the fence they had made earlier.

The two cut electrical cables from the compound and loaded them in Tiwari's car before driving off.

The trio returned to the TPJC campus on April 8, 2020, to take more electrical cables, including those from the ceilings, the electrical raisers and the Air Handling Unit room.

Sold loot

On Apr. 8, 2020, Tiwari sold 994kg of electrical cables to a recycling shop and earned S$3,976.

On Apr. 27, 2020, he sold another 773kg of electrical wires at the same shop and earned S$3,478.

He paid some of the earnings to Mohabbat and Shobus.

Tiwari and Mohabbat were arrested on Apr. 23, 2020.

The police could identify Mohabbat through DNA analysis of saliva left on a bottle seized at JJC. Likewise, the police managed to identify Shobus through HDB polcam images.

Eyewitnesses placed Tiwari's car outside the theft locations, and the police traced the car's ownership back to him.

Total cost of repairs for both JCs over S$1 million

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ong Xin Jie sought 34 months imprisonment for Shobus, citing significant damage caused to property.

The cost of repairs for the damage caused at the former JJC campus amounted to S$400,000, while the damages at the former TPJC campus cost S$840,000.

"The damage caused was extensive," said Ong.

"Moreover, JJC and TPJC are properties owned by MOE. Public funds will have to be utilised to repair the damage caused."

Ong noted that Shobus committed the offences out of greed and for personal gain.

He said: "Even though the accused pleaded guilty, he did not do so at the earliest opportunity. The accused only pleaded guilty on the very eve of the trial."

Shobus is scheduled to appear in court to be sentenced on Dec. 23.

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