Ex-cleaner jailed for breaking into mosque and stealing $4K

Abdul Salam Aziz was jailed for two years and three months for stealing about $4,000 from Sultan Mosque on Aug 8.
Abdul Salam Aziz was jailed for two years and three months for stealing about $4,000 from Sultan Mosque on Aug 8. PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A man who broke into Sultan Mosque and stole about $4,000 was jailed for two years and three months on Monday (Oct 5).

Abdul Salam Aziz, 47, pleaded guilty to housebreaking and theft by night by climbing over the rear fence to get into the Muscat Street premises at about 2am on Aug 8 this year.

A district court heard that Abdul Salam used to work at the mosque last year and had kept some of his belongings in the first floor storeroom. He did not retrieve them even after he left the employ of the mosque.

He came to know that the mosque's executive officer and his colleagues would keep money in the storeroom from time to time. These were funds collected from devotees to pay for various programmes run by the mosque.

He also knew that the door to the storeroom could not be locked.

On Aug 8, he climbed into the mosque over a low fence at the back, retrieved a long robe to cover his face and headed towards the storeroom.

He stole four plastic bags containing money and retrieved his personal belongings. He then left via the same way and went to a nearby Housing Board void deck at Beach Road. He emptied the plastic bags and counted the money which came up to about $4,000.

Two days later, he left for Indonesia with his ill-gotten gains. In Indonesia, he gave the stolen money to his wife.

The victim only discovered what Abdul Salam had done on Aug 11. After going through the CCTV footage, he was able to identity Abdul Salam and lodged a police report.

Abdul Salam was arrested at Changi Airport on Aug 18. A sum of $2,150 was recovered from him.

Deputy Public Prosecutor John Lu said there was a clear breach of trust and authority which was reposed in Abdul Salam, an ex-worker.

"There is an element of public interest in this case and the court has to send a message that offences against places of worship will not be tolerated," he said.

Abdul Salam, who has a previous conviction for theft, could have been jailed for up to 14 years for burglary.