SINGAPORE - Climbing in through a rooftop ventilator, two Vietnamese men sneaked into a fruit wholesale shop in the wee hours of Tuesday morning and made off with about half a million in cash.
In less than a day, they splashed some of the stolen cash on several luxury goods, including a pair of Gucci shoes and a Louis Vuitton belt.
But their shopping spree ended abruptly that night, after police officers sprung onto the pair, aged 23 and 35, at a public area in Marina Bay Sands (MBS).
At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon (Jan 6), police said that they arrested the suspects at about 10.30pm, about 16 hours after the owners discovered the break-in.
About $433,000 in cash and some luxury goods were recovered from a hotel room at MBS, which the suspects were staying in since Saturday (Jan 2).
To establish their identities, police officers from the Clementi Division acted upon a lead from a taxi driver, who recalled picking up the pair along West Coast Highway on Tuesday morning.
Earlier that day at Loh Ee Seng Trading, they had forced open the ventilator and cut open the safe containing the cash using a set of tools, according to preliminary investigations by the police.
The sum of $500,000 is the largest amount of cash involved in a housebreaking case over the past two years, said Clementi Division Commander Gerald Lim.
When owner Loh Yong Soon, 46, arrived at his Pasir Panjang wholesale centre shop at about 7am on Tuesday, he was crestfallen to discover that the cash had been stolen.
"It's all gone. We've to start over again," he said in a phone call to his brother, Mr Thomas Loh Yong Kiat, 36, soon after alerting the police.
The brothers had consolidated the large amount of cash in the safe since mid December to prepare for the Chinese New Year peak season.
"Most of the money was prepared for our suppliers who requested for cash payments. The rest were bonuses for our employees," said the younger Mr Loh.
And while they had installed a CCTV camera in the shop, they later found out that it had been faulty since a power trip last month.
The brothers took over their father's business some 13 years ago.
"We were all at a loss the entire day. It was a very painful lesson for us," he added.
The suspects will be charged on Thursday (Jan 7) for housebreaking and theft by night. If convicted, they may face a jail term of up to 14 years.