Jail for cop who pocketed more than $200 from wallets handed over to him at NPC

SINGAPORE - A policeman abused the trust placed in him when he repeatedly took cash from wallets which had been handed to Pasir Ris Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) for safekeeping.

Ground response force officer Isaac Lim Jun Cheng misappropriated more than $200 in total between June and November 2018.

Lim, 24, was sentenced on Wednesday (March 25) to three months' jail after pleading guilty to one count of criminal breach of trust.

In a statement, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) told The Straits Times that he has been suspended since Jan 25 last year.

It has also started disciplinary proceedings against him following his conviction on Wednesday.

The court heard that a woman identified as Ms Nor Hashima Ismail lost her wallet after she had lunch at Changi Village Hawker Centre on Nov 16, 2018.

A passer-by later found the wallet and gave it to Mr Balakrishna Kandasamy, who ran a drink stall at the eatery.

Mr Balakrishna noticed that the wallet contained cash and from the NRIC, he realised that it belonged to Ms Nor, who was one of his regular customers.

He had initially planned to return it to her should they meet. But after 10 days, he decided to surrender it to Pasir Ris NPC instead.

Lim, who was on duty at the time, received the wallet from Mr Balakrishna.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Wei Liang said that after Mr Balakrishna left, Lim removed $180 in cash from the wallet and kept the money.

After that, Lim contacted Ms Nor to tell her that her wallet had been found. She turned up soon after and noticed that her money was missing.

When asked, Lim lied, saying the wallet had been found by a roadside.

The truth emerged when Ms Nor later ran into Mr Balakrishna who said he was the one who had handed the wallet over to the police.

He also told her that it contained cash when he did so. Ms Nor then alerted the police on Jan 1 last year.

DPP Lee told District Judge Ong Luan Tze that investigations later revealed that Lim had taken cash totalling at least $27 from wallets handed over to him at the NPC on two other occasions - June 11 and August 11, 2018.

The DPP added: "On these occasions, the accused had lodged reports to document the receipt of the wallets, but deliberately omitted to mention the currency notes when describing the contents of the wallets. He did so in order to avoid detection of his wrongdoing."

In its statement on Wednesday, the SPF said its officers are expected to uphold the law as well as " maintain the highest standards of conduct and integrity".

Its spokesman said: "The SPF takes the security of found property placed in police custody very seriously... This was an isolated case and does not represent the professional and disciplined conduct of our SPF officers."

For criminal breach of trust, Lim could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.

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