A 35-year-old man has been arrested by the police for his suspected involvement in a string of housebreaking and theft cases. These took place on the night of Sep. 1, Polling Day, at four landed properties in Pasir Ris.
Within 19 hours, the man was tracked down by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and detained at Changi Airport before he could leave Singapore.
The man, Wei Qingyou, was charged on Sep. 4 (Monday) for two counts of housebreaking and theft. If found guilty, he could be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.
Managed to escape despite being spotted
The first case of housebreaking took place at a residential unit along Pasir Ris Road, which police were alerted to at 8:55pm.
At this unit, the man attempted to break in while a gathering was ongoing downstairs, which included two of the owner's friends, Gan and Goh, aged 69 and 70 respectively.
Gan, a retiree, told Mothership that he would normally be watching the news at home in the evening.
However, that night, a good friend of 50 years invited him and Goh to have some drinks, durian and watch television at his Pasir Ris residence. They were also following the results of the election, which were being released.
At about 8 plus, one of the owner's domestic helpers went upstairs, intending to retire for the night, but returned to tell the owner's wife that she had spotted a male intruder.
"I was surprised. He was quite daring!" Gan shared, noting that the house was "fully lighted up" at that point.
As the owner was in the washroom, Goh and the two domestic helpers went up to investigate. Gan followed about a minute later.
When he entered the room, Gan said he saw an unknown man "dressed completely in black" climbing out the window. Goh tried to pull the man back into the house by grabbing onto a black haversack that the man was carrying.
Gan immediately went to help Goh detain the man, who was struggling to break free while standing on a window ledge. The two older men were then joined in their efforts by the domestic helpers.
However, the intruder managed to escape, leaving his haversack behind.
The black haversack was found to contain cash, foreign currencies, valuables, clothing, and housebreaking implements such as a bolt cutter, a hacksaw and screwdrivers.
Three other break-in attempts that night
The same man was also linked to three other cases of alleged housebreaking which took place that night.
At about 11:10pm, police received a report on a case of housebreaking at a residential unit along Pasir Ris Terrace, with S$1,500 in cash reported missing.
The next day, police received another report about a case of housebreaking committed on Sep. 1, involving a different residential unit along Pasir Ris Terrace. No loss was reported.
In addition, CCTV footage obtained from residents in the vicinity revealed that the man was involved in a fourth unreported case of housebreaking that night, also at Pasir Ris.
The footage also indicated that the suspect was wearing a mask, a cap, a long-sleeved hoodie and long pants, Timothy Yap, head investigator at Bedok Police Division, said at a press conference on Sep. 4.
He added that all of the four Pasir Ris residences that were linked to cases on housebreaking on Sep. 1 were found to be within walking distance of one another.
How he was caught
As part of investigations, a shirt and a mask recovered from the black haversack were sent to the Health Sciences Authority for forensic DNA examination.
Officers from Bedok Police Division also conducted extensive ground enquiries with the aid of CCTV images.
They traced the man's housebreaking tools, which had been found in his black haversack, to hardware shops in Geylang and Clementi, where he allegedly bought them.
In a multi-agency effort that also involved officers from the Police Operations Command Centre, Police Intelligence Department, Special Operations Command, Gurkha Contingent, Airport Police Division, and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, the identity of the man was established.
The man wanted to flee the country but was arrested at the departure area of Changi Airport Terminal 4 on Sep. 2 afternoon, the day after the housebreakings were allegedly committed.
Upon his arrest, cash amounting to more than S$1,600 in Singapore Dollars, and about S$1,900 worth in various foreign currencies, were recovered.
Public Spiritedness Awards
Bedok Police Division also presented the Public Spiritedness Award to the two domestic helpers, Abaya Rizzalyn Estrella and Chita Guzman Abaya, and the two men, Goh Kim Hock and Gan Kok Beng, for their efforts in attempting to detain the man before the arrival of police officers.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Justin Wong, who is the Commander of Bedok Police Division, also praised their courage and public spiritedness in trying to detain the intruder.
"The suspect showed a blatant disregard for the law by committing housebreaking and theft while in Singapore. I would like to commend the bravery of the migrant domestic workers and members of the public who confronted the suspect. This case exemplifies how the police work hand-in-hand with the community to keep Singapore safe and secure," Wong said at a press conference on Sep. 4.
Following the spate of housebreaking incidents, officers from Pasir Ris NPC conducted house visits at the Pasir Ris vicinity to provide homeowners with crime prevention tips relating to housebreaking and theft.
They advised homeowners to:
- Install a burglar alarm, motion sensor lights and/or CCTVs, to cover the access points into the premises. Ensure that they are tested periodically and are in good working condition
- Secure all doors, roller shutters, windows and other openings with good quality grilles and close-shackled padlocks before leaving the premises unattended, even for a short while
- Refrain from keeping large sums of cash and valuables in the premises
- If you are going overseas for long periods of time and leaving your premises unattended, inform your neighbours about the duration of your absence, and how you can be contacted if necessary
Wong added that police have noticed a trend of housebreakers targeting landed estates during public holidays, when perpetrators know people are away.
Top image from Singapore Police Force.