SINGAPORE – Thanks to an alert resident who noticed a backpack hidden behind several potted plants, an armed robbery suspect who threatened to blow up a pawnshop outside Boon Lay MRT station last Saturday (July 28) was arrested after a five-day manhunt.
The suspect, a 29-year-old Bangladeshi man, was arrested in Kampong Glam’s Muscat Street, where he was living, on Wednesday.
The man has been an overstayer since last December, and was previously a construction worker, said the police at a press conference on Thursday morning.
The Straits Times understands the suspect’s name is Sheikh Md Razan.
He will be charged on Friday with attempted armed robbery and exhibiting an imitation firearm when committing a scheduled offence.
The alleged robbery attempt took place at around 4.30pm when the suspect barged into the pawnshop, armed with a knife and a replica of a gun, which turned out to be made of plastic.
When the pawnshop workers refused to hand over the cash and jewellery, the suspect allegedly threatened to blow up the shop with an explosive device. He then allegedly threw the object onto the counter and fled without taking any items.
The workers immediately threw the object out of the shop and called the police. No one was injured in the incident. The object contained electrical components.
After the foiled robbery attempt, the suspect allegedly fled to a Housing Board flat in Jurong West and disposed of his clothing and turban, which was used as part of his disguise.
The items, along with a chopper, were found in a backpack behind potted plants outside a resident’s unit. A few hours later, the resident spotted the bag and called the police.
Following the lead provided by the resident, police were able to identify the man from police cameras at the HDB flat.
The robbery attempt led to one of the MRT station exits being closed temporarily. MRT trains also bypassed Boon Lay station.
The man was arrested on Wednesday at about 7pm.
The replica gun has not been found yet, said the police. The man allegedly claimed he used spare plastic parts to assemble it such that it looked like a gun.
The manager of the pawnshop ValueMax, Mr Vincent Ng, told The Straits Times that the suspect did not look convincing or intimidating during the attempted robbery.
“During a robbery, you would expect a fierce person pointing a gun or weapon directly at you, but he didn’t look very certain of himself,” said Mr Ng, 48, who has been working for the company for 10 years.
He added that when the suspect entered the shop, the man yelled: “I need money. I want cash. Put all the cash inside the bag.”
He said the suspect kept the replica gun in his jacket and flashed the replica gun twice. “He kept taking it out and putting it back in very quickly,” said Mr Ng.
The manager, who was with three other colleagues at the time, said he contemplated handing over valuables to the man but ultimately decided not to. “I was worried whether it was the right thing to do or not,” he added.
The manhunt involved officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Police Intelligence Department, Special Operations Command and the six Police Land Divisions.
Deputy Commissioner of Police for investigation and intelligence Florence Chua, who is also director of the CID, said in a statement: “The man went to great lengths to conceal his identity and cover his tracks to evade detection and arrest.
“(Thus), this case required meticulous police work and the combined and coordinated efforts of officers from various Singapore Police Force units, working tirelessly round the clock to pursue all available leads to successfully arrest the man.”
Ms Chua also thanked the resident for alerting police to the bag, which provided police with a lead to the man’s identity.
She added that while the resident helped to expedite the arrest, police were also looking through surveillance camera footage to locate the suspect. “It would have been a matter of time before we found him,” said Ms Chua.
If convicted of armed robbery, he could face between two and seven years in jail, and at least 12 strokes of the cane. If convicted of exhibiting an imitation firearm when committing a scheduled offence, the suspect could be imprisoned for up to 10 years and face at least three strokes of the cane.