5 teens arrested for hiding in Ikea Tampines after closing time, possibly inspired by online challenge

The five boys were arrested after hiding in Ikea Tampines and staying beyond the store's operating hours. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Five teenagers aged between 16 and 18 have been arrested after they hid in Ikea Tampines beyond the store's opening hours.

They are believed to have been inspired by a social media challenge.

The police were alerted to a case of wilful trespassing at No. 60 Tampines North Drive 2, where Ikea Tampines is located, at 12.52am on Sunday (March 31).

In a release on Sunday, the police said officers from Bedok Police Division located the five boys and arrested them.

Preliminary investigations found that the teenagers were hiding in the Ikea building and stayed beyond the store's operating hours.

Related story: Read more Courts & Crime stories

If convicted of wilful trespass, they can be fined up to $1,000 each.

The police also reminded the public that anyone who wilfully trespasses without a satisfactory excuse will be investigated.

An Ikea spokesman told The Straits Times on Monday that the youths were found in the rugs department of the store.

There was no damage to the property and the boys did not possess any goods when they were apprehended by police, the spokesman said.

"We want people to feel at home at Ikea and we love to see fans have a great day out in our store - but an unsanctioned sleepover is simply not safe, given the warehouse operations and heavy equipment in our building," the spokesman said.

"We are stepping up our processes internally to ensure there are no copycats as we cannot secure the safety of people in our store after closing."

The case of trespass is believed to be inspired by a 24-Hour Challenge on social media, the Ikea spokesman said.

The challenge dares people to hide in a store or shopping centre for 24 hours without being detected.

While the Swedish furniture giant takes the incident seriously, Ikea intends to write to the police investigative branch to ask for leniency for the youths, the spokesman added.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.