Police nab two men suspected of stealing $500k from fruit shop

(Above) Police recovered about $433,000 in cash and several luxury goods from a room in MBS, where the two Vietnamese men were staying. They allegedly broke into a fruit wholesale shop in Pasir Panjang and stole the money.
(Above) Police recovered about $433,000 in cash and several luxury goods from a room in MBS, where the two Vietnamese men were staying. They allegedly broke into a fruit wholesale shop in Pasir Panjang and stole the money. ST PHOTOS: ONG WEE JIN, MARK CHEONG
Police recovered about $433,000 in cash and several luxury goods from a room in MBS, where the two Vietnamese men were staying. They allegedly broke into a fruit wholesale shop in Pasir Panjang (above) and stole the money.
Police recovered about $433,000 in cash and several luxury goods from a room in MBS, where the two Vietnamese men were staying. They allegedly broke into a fruit wholesale shop in Pasir Panjang (above) and stole the money. ST PHOTOS: ONG WEE JIN, MARK CHEONG

Two Vietnamese men allegedly made off with about half a million dollars in cash after breaking into a fruit wholesale shop in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

Before the day was through, the two of them allegedly used the stolen money to buy luxury goods, including a pair of Gucci shoes and a Louis Vuitton belt.

Police officers nabbed the pair, aged 23 and 35, in Marina Bay Sands (MBS) on the same day.

At a press conference yesterday afternoon, police said the suspects were arrested at 10.30pm on Tuesday - 16 hours after the shop owners first discovered the break-in.

About $433,000 in cash and several luxury goods were recovered from the hotel room in MBS where the two men had been staying since Saturday.

Officers from Clementi Police Division were able to quickly establish the identities of the men after a taxi driver told them he had picked up the pair along West Coast Highway early on Tuesday morning.

The cash amount is the largest police have seen in a housebreaking case in the past two years, said Clementi Division Commander Gerald Lim.

Mr Loh Yong Soon, 46, who owns Loh Ee Seng Trading, said he arrived at his Pasir Panjang wholesale centre shop at about 7am on Tuesday, and was stunned by what he saw.

The safe in the shop had been cut open and all the money he had kept in it was missing.

After he called the police, Mr Loh called his younger brother, Mr Thomas Loh Yong Kiat, 36, and told him: "It's all gone. We've to start all over again."

The brothers were keeping the money in the safe since the middle of last month to prepare for the Chinese New Year peak season.

"Most of the money was for our suppliers, many of whom request cash payments. The rest of it was meant to be bonuses for our employees," said Mr Thomas Loh.

Although they had installed a CCTV camera in the shop, they found out that it had been faulty following a power failure last month.

"We were at a loss the whole day. It was a very painful lesson for us," said Mr Thomas Loh who, with his elder brother, took over their father's business 13 years ago.

The two Vietnamese men are expected to appear in court today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2016, with the headline 'Police nab two men suspected of stealing $500k from fruit shop'. Print Edition | Subscribe