Teen jailed for theft of gold items from jewellery shops

SINGAPORE - A teen who stole more than $30,000 worth of gold items from three shops was jailed a total of 11 months on Wednesday.

Full-time national serviceman Vairavan Venkatesh, 19, admitted to two of three charges of theft with the third taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing.

The court heard that after stealing four gold chains worth $8,980 from pawnshop Money Max at Serangoon Road on May 17, he stole four gold bars worth $14,775 from another shop in Yishun while out on bail.

The Singapore permanent resident committed the July 4 theft with student Sivasakthi Kumaran Nagarajan, 22, who is now serving four months' jail for the theft.

The court heard that Venkatesh walked into Money Max on May 17 to enquire about gold ornaments worth about $10,000 which he claimed was for his sister's wedding. He hatched a plan to steal and resell gold items as he was short on cash for his personal expenses.

He was in the shop for half an hour before he dashed out with four gold chains shown to him by the shop assistant. The shop assistant gave chase but lost sight of him. She subsequently sent an email alert to other branches to look out for the stolen gold chains.

Venkatesh headed for the Geylang branch of Money Max and managed to sell the stolen items for $7,245.

He spent $1,250 on his own expenses and booked a three-night stay for him and his girlfriend at a room in Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa Resort and Spa where he was arrested the next day. Among the items seized was $4,771 in cash.

On July 3, he bumped into Sivasakthi Kumaran and foreman Sastha Pillay Gnanamurthi, 29, at a coffeshop in Little India.

Venkatesh pawned his cellphone for $420 so that they could go clubbing. After clubbing, they commiserated about not having money. Venkatesh came up with a plan to steal gold. Sivaskathi Kumaran suggested targeting a shop in Yishun as he was familiar with the area.

The next day, Venkatesh and Sivasakthi Kumaran took a bus to Yishun. Venkatesh pretended to buy gold bars at Chip Lee Goldsmith Jewellery. He was holding four gold bars in his hand when he suddenly turned around and fled. He later met Sivasakthi Kumaran, and changed into a red shirt that he took out from his bag so that he could not be easily identified.

Not knowing where to sell the stolen gold bars, the pair met Sastha Pillay who allegedly helped them find a buyer. The trio spent the proceeds on clubbing, drinking, food and cigarettes. Sastha Pillay's case is pending.

Venkatesh, who plans to renounce his permanent residency and return to India, could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined on each charge.