Two China nationals jailed for stealing from donation boxes at a temple and mosque

Two men from China were jailed on Friday for stealing cash from a temple's donation box. -- ST FILE PHOTO: WANG HUI FEN
Two men from China were jailed on Friday for stealing cash from a temple's donation box. -- ST FILE PHOTO: WANG HUI FEN

Two men from China were jailed on Friday for stealing cash from a temple's donation box.

Qin Chaofan, 37, and Qin Zhipu, 31, admitted to stealing $500 from the donation box of Cheng Hong Siang Tng Temple at Arumugam Road on Nov 26 last year. A similar charge involving $38 stolen from the temple two days earlier was considered during sentencing.

Chaofan was sentenced to six months' jail while Zhipu was jailed for nine months after pleading guilty to another of theft of $70 from the donation box at Sultan Mosque on Aug 29 last year. The Sultan Mosque offence was committed with Wei Jia, who has not been charged.

A court heard that the two natives from Guangxi heard that it was easy to steal from donation boxes in religious places of worship in Singapore and had hatched the plan to steal in their hometown. They were staying in a hotel in Geylang when they made their way by cab to the temple off Paya Lebar Road in a taxi.

When they saw no one in the main prayer hall, Chaofan placed his laptop bag with a slit at the bottom on top of the donation box. He then aligned the slit with the slot of the donation box, and shone a torch light to check if there was cash in the box.

Zhipu acted as a lookout while Chaofan slid a metal blade wrapped with masking tape with the sticky side of the tape facing outwards into the donation box. He moved the metal blade several times so that cash would stick on the blade. He repeated this three times with three other sticky blades. A total of $500 was stolen.

Zhipu had similarly acted as a lookout when he and Wei Jia stole $70 from the Sultan Mosque in August. Wei had placed a laptop bag on the donation box and pretended to search through his bag.

Both men could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined on each charge.