A robber managed to evade the Singapore authorities for about six years after he illegally fled to Batam by hiding inside a piece of luggage.
Singaporean Khoo Wei Chyi, 42, was part of a group that pretended to be National Environment Agency (NEA) officers in order to enter a Pavilion Rise home in Bukit Batok to rob it on Sept 22, 2010.
But he stole out of Singapore in early July 2011 to evade a court date and was sent back only this April after officers from the Indonesian immigration authority arrested him in January for overstaying. Court papers did not elaborate on how he managed to flee the country .
Yesterday, Khoo was sentenced to four years and nine months' jail and six strokes of the cane after he pleaded guilty to one count each of robbery and leaving Singapore from an unauthorised departure point.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Amanda Sum said that in 2010, two of Khoo's accomplices had found out the owner of the Pavilion Rise house kept large amounts money at home and decided to rob him. The pair roped in Khoo and two other men to take part in the heist.
All five unemployed men decided to pose as NEA officers so that they could get into the semi-detached house on the pretext of checking it for mosquitoes.
The men went to the location on Sept 22 that year and slipped on surgical masks when the home owner's wife and then-nine-year-old daughter came home at 12.50pm.
One of the men started fogging with equipment they had earlier bought, while another told the housewife they needed to check inside the house as well. Later, Khoo whipped out a knife and told her "they just wanted money". She told him about a safe in the master bedroom, the court heard.
DPP Sum said the robbers restrained the woman, her daughter and their maid with cable ties before using tools, such as crowbars, to force the safe open.
They also forced open a second safe they found. They took away about $113,000 in cash and valuables before fleeing the scene.
The housewife alerted the police after she managed to free herself and officers later arrested the men.
Khoo surrendered his passport to the authorities and was due to plead guilty to his offences in court on July 15, 2011 when he absconded.
All four of Khoo's accomplices have been dealt with in court.