SINGAPORE - An Aetos officer was charged on Wednesday (April 14) under the Arms Offences Act for allegedly robbing a moneylending company of more than $24,000 in cash while armed with a revolver, the first time in 15 years a gun was used in an armed robbery.
Mahadi Muhamad Mukhtar, 38, had approached staff at OT Credit, located at Block 135 Jurong Gateway Road, at about 3.30pm on April 12.
The police said in a statement on Wednesday morning that preliminary investigations revealed that staff at the unit were shown a handwritten note that said: "This is a robbery, don't shout. I got a gun in my pocket. Put all the money in the bag."
The staff purportedly handed him the cash before he fled.
Mahadi was allegedly carrying a firearm during the robbery but did not reveal it to the staff. He is believed to have acted alone, said the police, adding that the last armed robbery involving a firearm happened in 2006 at a 4-D outlet at Sun Plaza shopping centre.
This is the second time that OT Credit has been targeted by armed robbers. Last November, four men allegedly robbed the moneylending company of $48,000 in cash while armed with a karambit knife.
Kotta Kumar Jeswanth, now 19, was sentenced in February to undergo reformative training for a minimum of one year. This means that he will be detained in a centre and made to follow a strict regimen that includes foot drills and counselling. The cases involving three other men are still pending.
In the latest case, police said officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Police Intelligence Department and Clementi Police Division, with the help of Aetos staff, were able to identify the suspect as an on-duty Aetos auxiliary police officer.
Mahadi was arrested within five hours of the robbery.
Police, without identifying Mahadi by name, said the suspect had reported to work at the Aetos headquarters in Corporation Drive prior to the commencement of his deployment on Monday and drawn his firearm. But he then changed out of his uniform and left the headquarters with his firearm without authorisation.
After allegedly committing the offence, Mahadi returned to the headquarters, put on his uniform and rode in the company's van to his deployment location.
Police said investigations also showed that he purportedly deposited part of the stolen cash in the bank account of his female friend.
Nur Shana Mohd Taib, 34, was charged on Wednesday afternoon with one count of receiving stolen property.
Nur Shana, who is alleged to have received $10,000 shortly after the robbery, was also arrested.
Mahadi allegedly also transferred the stolen cash to a few bank accounts to repay his debt to unlicensed moneylenders.
The police have since arrested eight other individuals, aged between 16 and 48, in relation to the robbery.
About $17,500 of the cash has been recovered, with efforts to recover the rest under way, said police.
Mahadi was charged in court on Wednesday morning with the offences, including being in unlawful possession of arms or ammunition in the commission of a scheduled offence.
He has been remanded and is expected to be back in court for a further mention of his case on April 21. If convicted, he will face life imprisonment and no fewer than six strokes of the cane.
Nur Shana has also been remanded to assist in investigations before returning to court on April 21. If convicted, she could be jailed for up to five years, or fined, or both.
Aetos, in a media statement, did not identify Mahadi by name but said he was an auxiliary police officer who performed general security. It added that the company is extending its fullest cooperation to the authorities in their investigation.
"Aetos has zero tolerance for any form of criminal conduct by any of its employees, especially the unlawful use of firearms. We impose stringent regulations, safeguards and a strict code of conduct on all auxiliary police officers to ensure that they are fit for duty and to carry firearms," the company said.
CID director How Kwang Hwee said the armed robbery suspect had abused the firearm entrusted to him to carry out his duties.
"Police officers worked swiftly to secure his arrest, aided by images from police cameras and shop CCTVs. We managed to do so without harm being caused to the public, given the risk that the robber was allegedly carrying a firearm.
"The police will spare no effort to ensure that such criminals who endanger the public's safety are dealt with firmly and severely in accordance with the law," added Senior Assistant Commissioner How.