SINGAPORE - As one of the robbers lunged towards her and pulled out a knife, the first thing Ms S. Yang thought of was her three young children.
The 35-year-old manager at a licensed moneylender, who declined to give her full name, was alone at OT Credit on Thursday (Nov 19) afternoon when three men walked into the shop at Block 135 Jurong Gateway Road.
They had face masks on and did not wear gloves. The men fled the scene with about $48,000, said Ms Yang.
On Friday morning, the police informed her that the three men have been arrested.
"Of course, as a mother, the first thing I thought of when I saw the knife was my kids, and what would happen to them if something had happened to me," Ms Yang told The Straits Times on Friday afternoon. Her children are between two and six years of age.
At a press conference on Friday, the police confirmed that four men aged between 19 and 26 have been arrested for their suspected involvement in an armed robbery at a unit in Jurong Gateway Road.
Preliminary investigations found that of the quartet, three of them had allegedly carried out the robbery.
One of them is said to have pointed a knife at a female staff member, pulled her hair and demanded that she hand over the money in the unit.
The men then allegedly dragged her into a room in the shop to confine her before fleeing with about $48,000 in cash.
The fourth man who was arrested is suspected of helping to dispose of the knife used in the robbery.
Within 12 hours, officers from the Police Intelligence Department and Clementi Police Division identified the three men who carried out the act, said the police in a news release. They added that the men tried to conceal their identities to evade detection and arrest.
About $30,000 of the cash has been recovered, with efforts to recover the rest under way.
All four men are expected to be charged in court on Saturday with armed robbery with hurt.
If convicted, they face between five and 20 years in jail and at least 12 strokes of the cane.
Commander of the Clementi Police Division, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police Marc E said: “This is a very egregious case, it happened in broad daylight in a place where many members of the public go. The police will spare no effort to arrest such criminals and bring them to justice.”
Ms Yang, who has worked at OT Credit for five years, said that two of the men had visited the shop before the robbery earlier on Thursday.
One kept his motorcycle helmet on while he spoke to her but she recognised him later from his eyes as well as the soccer jersey he was wearing. The other man opened the door to the shop and poked his head in but did not speak to the staff.
When the duo returned to the shop about 4pm with another man, they did not appear suspicious to Ms Yang as they asked for a loan.
Suddenly, one of them lunged across to the other side of the table and grabbed her by her hair while holding a knife, she claimed.
The other two men kept watch in the front and back of the shop as the third man was said to have pulled her around the shop by her hair looking for the safe while still holding the knife.
Before they fled the scene, they locked Ms Yang in the back room.
The staff in the neighbouring unit, a money changer, told ST that they heard her knocking on the partition between the two shops and shouting for help.
"She seemed very shocked and shaken up. She said that someone took their money and ran away. Once we let her out, she called the police," said Madam Lutfunnesa Shahanaz, 50, an assistant manager at the money changer.