SINGAPORE - After a Chilean national flicked some chocolate sauce on a man who had withdrawn money from a bank, his two accomplices gave some tissue paper to the victim ostensibly to clean his T-shirt. Once the victim was distracted, they swiped $1,200 from his shoulder bag.
The trio next tailed another man from a moneychanger, got up the bus with him and stole HK$11,000 (S$1,904) and a $900 cheque from him as the victim was about to alight.
They left for Malaysia by coach the same day and were arrested a week later, on Sept 18, at Woodlands checkpoint.
On Monday (Nov 27), two of them - Arancibia Sanchez Marcelo Atilio, 40, and his friend, Cifuentes Villagran Manuel Jesus, 38, were each sentenced to 12 months' jail for two counts of theft and one of using criminal force. Both have a few similar convictions back home.
Marcelo's uncle, 69-year-old Arancibia Pineda Julio Adolfo, represented by Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, was given eight months' jail for the same offences. All three pleaded guilty.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Star Chen Xinhui said the three came to Singapore on Sept 8 with the intention of committing thefts from the onset as they thought Singaporeans may be an easy target.
On Sept 11, they were near Raffles Place looking for potential targets when they saw Mr Liu Hock Kian, 53, emerging from OCBC building and putting cash into his leather bag which had a faulty zipper.
They followed him to Upper Pickering Street, just outside Parkroyal on Pickering.
Marcelo moved forward and flicked some chocolate sauce on the back of Mr Liu's T-shirt before walking away.
Mr Liu felt something land on his T-shirt. He found that his T-shirt was soiled by an unknown substance.
Julio and Manuel then gave him some tissues and told him to remove his T-shirt.
Mr Liu did so and placed his shoulder bag on the floor. When he was distracted, Manuel took the cash from the bag and took the money. Julio and Manuel then met Marcelo and all three went back to their hotel in Chinatown to share the cash.
That afternoon, the trio were back in Raffles Place to look for the next target.
They spotted Mr Mah Yee Wei, 36, counting money outside a moneychanger and placing it in a ziplock envelope together with an OCBC cheque for $900 into his bag that was unzipped.
They followed him to the bus stop at about 3.05pm and boarded SBS Transit No 100 which was heading towards VivoCity.
About 20 minutes later, Mr Mah was about to alight when Manuel moved infront of him and dropped some coins on the floor. As he bent down to pick them up, Julio and Marcelo moved closer to corner the victim at the bus exit, giving Marcelo the opportunity to slip his hand into Mr Mah's bag and take the cash and cheque without the victim's knowledge.
They alighted and went back to their hotel, packed up their belongings and left for Malaysia.
Both incidents were captured by closed-circuit TV cameras and the trio were identified. An assortment of various currencies amounting to $2,331 were found when they were arrested.