Man who stole $1.9k from mosque over three weeks given 4½ years jail

Harmudin Bahar was jailed for 4½ years for breaking into the Masjid Al-Iman mosque 12 times in three weeks to steal a total of $1,900.
Harmudin Bahar was jailed for 4½ years for breaking into the Masjid Al-Iman mosque 12 times in three weeks to steal a total of $1,900. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A thief made a contraption out of a coat hanger and sticky tape so that he could fish cash out of a donation box, a court heard yesterday.

Harmudin Bahar, 54, broke into the Masjid Al-Iman mosque 12 times in three weeks to steal a total of $1,900 using the improvised device.

He was jailed for 4 ½ years after pleading guilty to four out of 12 charges of housebreaking at night to commit theft.

Harmudin, who was previously jailed for housebreaking in 1987 and 2011, was also given an additional eight weeks' jail in lieu of caning.

A district court heard that Harmudin and an accomplice, Azhar Musa, 48, would go to the mosque at 10 Bukit Panjang Ring Road between 1am and 3am.

Harmudin would enter by unlatching the rear gate, while Azhar kept a lookout outside the mosque. If Azhar saw anyone else entering the mosque, he would call Harmudin on his mobile phone.

After stealing from the mosque, the duo would leave together. Harmudin would give Azhar between $40 to $65 each time for his help.

At about 2.30am on March 17, Harmudin used his device to retrieve cash notes inside a donation box placed outside the mosque's main prayer hall.

He spent a few hours fishing out money from the box and made off with an estimated $160.

The donation money would have gone towards the mosque's operations and maintenance.

Harmudin and Azhar returned to steal from the mosque several times.

On April 1, at about 1am, Harmudin climbed through the window of an office to take an envelope containing $200 in cash, and a petty box containing two keys and 30 booklets of stamps valued at $45 in total.

Later that day, the mosque's facilities coordinator made a police report after discovering the items missing.

Harmudin and Azhar went back to the mosque again on April 3, 4 and 6. Harmudin filched about $160 on each of the days, while Azhar kept a lookout.

Harmudin was arrested on April 7.

The punishment for housebreaking at night in order to commit theft is between two and 14 years' jail. Repeat offenders below age 50 are also liable to caning.

Azhar's case is pending.

amirh@sph.com.sg