Former civilian officer from police force jailed 14 months for criminal breach of trust

Benjamin Lim Xuan Zhou, 26, who worked as a Fupo registration officer at the Police Logistics Department in Hemmant Road, committed the offence between April and June last year.
Benjamin Lim Xuan Zhou, 26, who worked as a Fupo registration officer at the Police Logistics Department in Hemmant Road, committed the offence between April and June last year. ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A former civilian officer from the Singapore Police Force was jailed for 14 months on Monday (Aug 28) for criminal breach of trust after he helped himself to valuables surrendered to the police's Found and Unclaimed Property Office (Fupo).

Benjamin Lim Xuan Zhou, 26, who worked as a Fupo registration officer at the Police Logistics Department in Hemmant Road, committed the offence between April and June last year.

He made off with more than 180 items, including mobile phones, wallets, credit cards and $9,580.93 in cash.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Chew said Fupo's main role is to collect, register and store properties which the public from all over Singapore surrender to the police.

After the initial processing is completed at the different neighbourhood police centres and posts, the items are then packed into individual polymer bags. They are then taken to Fupo for final processing.

Lim's responsibilities included registering and processing items Fupo received.

During the final processing, he was tasked to cut open the polymer bags, remove their contents and update the details of the items into two electronic record systems.

After that, he had to place the items into new polymer bags which are then kept in a Fupo store room.

According to Lim, he was in debt while working there and needed cash to finance his loans. So, he decided to misappropriate the items he received for processing.

DPP Chew said that to evade detection, Lim intentionally omitted registering the polymer bags containing the items that he misappropriated.

She added: "He also targeted items which he believed were unlikely to be traceable to their owners - where the polymer bags had no names or particulars. The accused was gradually emboldened and started misappropriating items even when the polymer bags were labelled with names or particulars."

The court heard that Lim later resigned from his job and July 15 last year was his final day at work.

But his offences came to light three days later when the other Fupo officers could not locate a wallet sent there from a neighbourhood police post. More items were discovered missing in subsequent checks.

It was eventually determined that these corresponded to the valuables which he had been tasked to process.

Lim, who was unrepresented, made a restitution of about $10,000, the court heard.

DPP Chew urged District Judge Kenneth Yap to jail Lim for at least 14 months.

She said: "The hard-won reputation of law enforcement and security agencies cannot be taken for granted. It has to be jealously protected."

For criminal breach of trust, Lim could have been jailed for up to 20 years and fined.