SINGAPORE - A freelance air-con maintenance technician who was desperate to repay his debt to a loanshark broke into his friend's office and spent about an hour cutting into a safe to steal $42,000 in cash and a branded watch, a district court heard.
On Monday (May 23), Leo Sang Yong, 47, was jailed for three years with four strokes of the cane after he pleaded guilty to one charge of house-breaking by night.
The court heard that Leo had knowledge of businessman Chua Siau Lim's office layout at KB Warehouse Complex in Kaki Bukit Road 2, by virtue of their friendship. He had also seen Mr Chua, 72, open up his safe and take out his money when they were chatting there.
On July 15, last year, Leo got a call from a loanshark who demanded repayment. Leo then decided to steal from his friend the same day.
At about 6pm, he climbed over the low wall into the warehouse compound to avoid close-circuit television cameras at the front carpark gantry. He then made his way to the back of the building and entered via the side door.
Seeing that Mr Chua and his staff were still working, Low snuck up to the second level of the warehouse, which served as a storage area, and hid there till about 8pm, when everyone else had left.
He then made his way down to Mr Chua's safe in his office, and spent about an hour cutting into the safe using a power cutting tool he found on the premises.
Leo took $42,000 in cash and a Rolex watch of unknown value that was in the safe.
He also tried to cover his tracks by taking a can of pesticide and spraying it on the outer and inner sides of the safe, thinking that this would get rid of his fingerprints.
He left the building by climbing through a window and scaling down the wall via a pipe.
Leo spent $39,000 of the stolen money to pay off his debts and the remainder on daily expenses. Police recovered $700 and the Rolex watch after they arrested him.
Leo has since returned $15,000 to Mr Chua.
The penalty for house-breaking by night to commit theft is between two and 14 years' jail. Repeat offenders will be punished with caning.
In 1995, Leo was sentenced to 40 months' jail for the same offence.