Man gets five years' corrective training for stealing from prostitutes

Tan Chin Heng, 46, stole from two prostitutes less than two years after he came out of prison for similar offences. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE 
Tan Chin Heng, 46, stole from two prostitutes less than two years after he came out of prison for similar offences. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE 

SINGAPORE - A freelance painter who stole from two prostitutes less than two years after he came out of prison for similar offences was sentenced to five years' corrective training on Thursday.

Tan Chin Heng, 46, committed the thefts last November.

On one occasion, he drove to Joo Chiat Road in a rented car at about 1am and went into a pub there with the intention of stealing from a prostitute.

He approached a Vietnamese sex worker, who agreed to provide sexual services for $80.

Tan drove her to a secluded carpark in Eunos Industrial Estate, where he asked her to leave her handbag in the front seat while they both moved to the back seat.

After a disagreement over the price of her services, Tan told the woman he did not want them anymore and told her to get back in the front seat.

But the moment she had got out of the car, Tan quickly locked the doors, climbed into the driver's seat, and stepped on the accelerator.

Inside the handbag was $200 in local currency, US$1,000, a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 handphone and her passport.

Tan took just the $200 and discarded the handbag.

On another occasion, he picked up a Chinese prostitute from a coffee shop in Geylang using the same rented car at about 3.30am.

Tan drove her to the same location and used the same modus operandi to drive away with her bag.

On another occasion, Tan took a Chinese national he had befriended via mobile phone application Wechat to East Coast Park in another rented car.

He asked her to leave her handbag in the car and to take a walk along the beach.

But under the pretext of needing to retrieve his lighter during the walk, he went back to his car and drove off with her handbag.

Tan was also convicted of criminal breach of trust on Thursday. He had borrowed a Volkswagen Jetta from someone who wanted to sell the car for $78,000, but did not return it and could not be contacted.

The police were alerted when the car was spotted at Hotel 81 Star in Lorong 18, Geylang and Tan was arrested there.

In his mitigation, Tan's lawyer Sudha Nair said Tan has a 19-year-old son from a previous marriage and pays a monthly maintenance of $300 towards his son.

He is also engaged to a 40-year-old, who is four months pregnant with their child, and they will now have to postpone their wedding plans.

Corrective training is a tough regime for repeat offenders with no remission for good behaviour.

Tan was jailed for 30 months in 2010 for similar theft offences.

amirh@sph.com.sg