He thought he could hide from the law by disguising himself with a pink turban when trying to rob a pawnshop with a fake gun and a threat to blow it up. But the suspect, a Bangladeshi overstayer, was caught after an alert resident found a backpack, which contained the turban and a chopper, stashed behind several potted plants.
The 29-year-old suspect, believed to be named Sheikh Md Razan, was arrested in Kampong Glam's Muscat Street, where he was staying, on Wednesday after a five-day manhunt involving officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Police Intelligence Department, Special Operations Command and the six Police Land Divisions.
The former construction worker has been an overstayer since last December, the police said at a press conference yesterday morning. He is expected to be charged today with attempted armed robbery and exhibiting an imitation firearm while committing the offence.
It was 4.30pm last Saturday when the suspect allegedly barged into the pawnshop outside Boon Lay MRT station, armed with a knife and what is believed to be a plastic replica gun.
When the pawnshop workers refused to hand over the cash and jewellery, he allegedly threatened to blow up the shop with an explosive device. He then allegedly threw the "bomb" onto the counter and fled.
The workers threw the object out of the shop and called the police. No one was injured in the incident. The object contained electrical components.
Still, the incident led to one of the MRT station exits near where the object landed being closed for an hour. MRT trains also had to bypass Boon Lay station.
The suspect allegedly fled to a Housing Board block in Jurong West and disposed of a backpack containing his disguise and a chopper by hiding it behind potted plants outside a flat. A few hours later, a resident spotted the bag and called the police.
Police were then able to identify the suspect from police cameras at the block. He was arrested on Wednesday at about 7pm.
The replica gun has not been found, said police. The suspect allegedly told police that he used spare plastic parts to assemble it.
The manager of pawnshop ValueMax, Mr Vincent Ng, told The Straits Times that the suspect's attempt at robbery seemed amateurish. "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, he yelled: "I need money. I want cash. Put all the cash inside the bag."
He said the suspect took the replica gun out of his jacket twice. "He kept taking it out and putting it back in very quickly."
Mr Ng, who was with three other colleagues at the time, said he thought about handing over valuables to the man but decided not to after the suspect's unconvincing behaviour. "I was worried whether it was the right thing to do or not."
If convicted of armed robbery, the suspect 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, he could be imprisoned for up to 10 years and face at least three strokes of the cane.