Several crime alert signs in Bukit Timah, homeowners advised to keep guard up

One of the police signs set up in the Bukit Timah area warning residents of a break-in in the neighbourhood. This one was in Sixth Avenue.
One of the police signs set up in the Bukit Timah area warning residents of a break-in in the neighbourhood. This one was in Sixth Avenue.ST PHOTO: BRYNA SINGH

Homeowners in the area advised to keep their guard up against break-ins

When Linden Drive resident Zena Lim first saw a large sign near her home in Bukit Timah alerting residents about a break-in in her estate, she got a little worried.

That, however, quickly turned into fear after she spotted more of the same signs around her neighbourhood.

"I was very alarmed," said the 37-year-old ophthalmologist. "Were there multiple incidents? Have there been any arrests?"

She was not the only one rattled by the "crime alerts" put up by the police to warn homeowners to keep their guard up against break-ins.

Many others who live in the prime area - from Binjai Park to Watten Estate - said they were concerned by the number of signs, rarely seen at multiple locations in private housing estates. Some wondered if their neighbourhood had been targeted by a syndicate.

Last week, The Sunday Times found a total of six similar signs spread around those estates, located along a 4km stretch of Dunearn Road.

Five, located in Jalan Kampong Chantek, Sixth Avenue, Eng Neo Avenue, Greenwood Crescent and Shelford Road, pointed to a break-in on Aug 31, between 4am and 7am. Another in Turf Club Road referred to a case on July 25 at 8.30pm.

These areas are mainly in the Moulmein-Kallang and Holland-Bukit Timah GRCs.

The Sunday Times understands that during those two break-ins, a handbag, a wallet and cash were stolen. Investigations are still ongoing.

Besides the two cases, Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Christopher de Souza recalls two other break-ins in Greenleaf estate over the past year. But he added that those have been solved by the police.

Information recently added to the signs by the police revealed that the suspect or suspects in the Aug 31 incident had broken in by climbing through an unlocked kitchen window at the back of the home. Rear windows and doors are "often the weakest points" that burglars look for, said the police.

Housebreaking and related crimes, however, have been on a downtrend.

Crime statistics released by the police late last month showed that the number of such cases fell to 252 in the first half of this year, compared to 333 in the same period last year. There were also fewer cases reported at residential premises, which fell from 193 to 134 incidents over the same period.

Although the number of housebreaking cases remains relatively low, Shelford Road resident Lucy Ng said she was still "very worried because the sign (near her home) wasn't specific in telling me where the crime happened".

But the retiree, who is in her 60s, added that she was relieved to learn that the number of signs put up by the by police does not necessarily correspond to the number of break-ins that have occurred.

However, some residents such as Ms Christy Tan said they were unruffled by the signs. The teacher, who is in her 30s, said: "I have an alarm and a dog. I think I'm safe."

brynasim@sph.com.sg