Foreign Trio Nabbed for Serial Theft using Tactic of Sleight of Hand

The Police have arrested three Romanians, two males and one female, aged between 25 to 39 for serial theft.

On 31 March 2017, the Police received two reports from staff of a supermarket alleging that cash was discovered missing by the cashiers at the end of their shift duties. Internal checks conducted by the supermarket revealed that the suspects had approached the cashiers and requested to change currencies to smaller denominations. Both cashiers had facilitated the request and did not take sufficient notice of the cash they had handled to and from the suspects. It was believed that cash was stolen in the process by one of the suspects using the tactic of sleight of hand.

Pursuant to the above mentioned cases, between 1 and 2 April 2017, multiple reports were received from other supermarkets and retail outlets islandwide, alleging that cash was discovered missing at the end of their duty shifts, after similar encounters with the suspects in changing currencies.

Upon receipt of the reports, Tanglin Division officers conducted extensive ground enquiries, relentlessly pursuing all leads in a bid to track down the suspects, including the extensive trawling of security camera footages images. The officers’ persistence paid off as they managed to establish the suspects’ identities subsequently. On 3 April 2017 at about 5.55 am, Tanglin Division officers conducted an operation and successfully rounded up all three subjects at a budget hotel in Geylang Lorong 18. All three suspects were arrested and the following items were recovered and seized as case exhibits:

” Singapore currency amounting to $4996

” US currency amounting to $5980

” Other currencies, eg Turkish, Pounds, Euros of various denominations

” 4 mobile phones

” An assortment of jewellery

Preliminary investigation revealed that the trio had entered Singapore on 29 March 2017 and were issued with social visit passes. The victims that the suspects had targeted were busy supermarkets and retail outlets. Two of the suspects were believed to have approached the cashier on the pretext of making some purchases before they requested to change currencies into smaller denominations. After this further request was facilitated, they were believed to have requested for a change of their notes to other denominations in a bid to distract the unsuspecting cashiers. In the process of handing the cash, the suspects allegedly employed sleight of hand, returning only some of the notes to the cashier during the process.

The suspects are believed to be responsible for at least 12 theft cases islandwide using a similar modus operandi, with at least one case involving the theft of a gold chain from a goldsmith shop using the same tactic.

All three suspects will be charged in Court on 4 April 2017 with the offence of Theft with Common Intention, under Section 379, read with Section 34 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224 and will be remanded in Tanglin Division for further investigations. If convicted, they will face an imprisonment term which may extend to 3 years or with fine, or with both.

Retailers are advised to be alert and to adopt the following measures so as not to fall victim to such thefts:

” Be extra careful when dealing with customers who request for repeated note denomination changes;

” After each transaction, retailers should ensure that the amount of currency is correct before the customer leaves the premises;

” Be aware of tactics that culprits may use, such as asking excessive questions which is likely to be a distraction ruse;

” If a customer requests to view multiple pieces of jewelry, retailers should ensure all the pieces of jewelry are accounted for before the customer leaves the premise. If there are other staff available, they should act as a lookout to observe any suspicious movements of the customer; and

” Install security cameras at locations where cash is handled.

Source: Singapore Police Force

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