3 Romanians arrested for 12 theft cases using sleight of hand while asking for smaller change

Police seized money from the three Romanians, including Singapore currency amounting to $4,996, US currency amounting to $5,980 and other currencies including Turkish lira, pounds and euros.
Police seized money from the three Romanians, including Singapore currency amounting to $4,996, US currency amounting to $5,980 and other currencies including Turkish lira, pounds and euros.PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
Police officers also seized jewellery and four mobile phones from the three Romanians.
Police officers also seized jewellery and four mobile phones from the three Romanians.PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

SINGAPORE - Two Romanian men and one woman were arrested on Monday (April 3) morning for at least 12 cases of theft from supermarkets and retail outlets in Singapore, which they carried out using sleight of hand.

Preliminary investigations show that the trio entered Singapore just five days ago, on March 29, with social visit passes, the police said in a news release on Monday.

Police first received two reports from a supermarket on March 31, whose staff said that cashiers found cash missing at the end of their shifts.

Internal checks by the supermarket found that the suspects, aged between 25 and 39, had approached the cashiers and asked if their currencies could be changed for smaller denominations.

Two cashiers facilitated the request, and it is believed that one of the suspects stole cash in the process.

Over the weekend (April 1 and 2), the police received multiple reports of missing cash from other supermarkets and retail outlets islandwide, after similar encounters with the suspects.

The trio also used the same tactic to steal at least one gold chain from a goldsmith shop.

Officers from Tanglin Division conducted extensive investigations including going through security camera footage.

They eventually identified and arrested all three suspects at a budget hotel in Geylang Lorong 18 at 5.55am on Monday.

The following were found on them: Singapore currency amounting to $4,996; United States currency amounting to $5,980; other currencies including Turkish currency, pounds and euros; four mobile phones and jewellery.

The three Romanians will be charged with the offence of theft with common intention and remanded in Tanglin Division for further investigations.

They face up to three years' jail and or a fine.

The police in its release advised retailers to be alert and adopt the following measures against 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 jewellery, retailers should ensure all the pieces of jewellery 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;

- Install security cameras at locations where cash is handled.