Jail for Colombian tourist who committed housebreaking after he ran out of money

SINGAPORE - A Colombian tourist who ran out of money broke into three houses here and made off with over $35,000 worth of cash and valuables from two of the premises.

Martin Alonso Garcia Cardona, 54, was sentenced to four years and 10 months' jail on Thursday (Nov 1) after pleading guilty to three counts of housebreaking at night.

The court heard that he arrived in Singapore on July 30 this year and soon ran out of money.

He decided to break into houses and bought items such as four chisels and a crowbar to commit the offences.

On the night of July 31, he went to Jalan Daud near Eunos and spotted a house that appeared to be unoccupied.

Using ledges as handholds, Cardona climbed to the second storey, pried open a bedroom window and entered the premises. When he could not find any valuables, he left the house.

Its occupant, a 27-year-old man, returned home at around midnight. He called the police when he noticed that the master bedroom door had been forced open.

Cardona struck again on Aug 4, when he broke into a house in Holland Grove View near Dover MRT station. The family who lived there were away on holiday.

He managed to steal cash and valuables, including watches, jewellery and wallets, worth more than $30,000.

The family returned home two days later and made a police report after they found their bedrooms ransacked.

On Aug 9, Cardona broke into a house in Faber Park near Clementi Avenue 6 and made off with valuables such as watches and jewellery worth over $5,000 in all.

The family alerted the police after they came home from their holiday three days later.

Police officers arrested the Colombian at a hostel in Upper Weld Road near Jalan Besar on Aug 15.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Iris Ng said: "The accused led the police to a forested area along Commonwealth Avenue before Dover MRT station, where some of the items reported stolen were recovered... The accused admitted to using some money to pay for food and accommodation. The items that were not recovered remain unaccounted for."

For each count of housebreaking at night to commit theft, Cardona could have been jailed for up to 14 years.