Robbery victim 'locked in room, pulled by her hair'

Four men arrested over armed robbery at moneylender

Ms S. Yang, who has worked at licensed moneylender OT Credit in Jurong Gateway Road for five years, was alone in the shop on Thursday afternoon when three men robbed the unit. ST PHOTO: JEAN IAU

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 afternoon when three men walked into the shop at Block 135 Jurong Gateway Road.

They had face masks on and did not wear gloves. They fled the scene with about $48,000, said Ms Yang.

Yesterday morning, the police informed her that the men have been arrested.

"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 yesterday afternoon.

Her children are between two and six years old.

At a press conference yesterday, the police said 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 three of the quartet 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 arrested is suspected of helping to dispose of the knife used in the robbery.

Within 12 hours of the robbery, officers from the Police Intelligence Department and Clementi Police Division identified the three men who carried it out. About $30,000 has been recovered, with efforts to recover the rest under way.

All four men are expected to be charged in court today with armed robbery with hurt. If convicted, they face five to 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."

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Ms Yang, who has worked at OT Credit for five years, said that two of the men visited the shop earlier on Thursday, before the robbery.

One kept his motorcycle helmet on while he spoke to her, but she recognised him later from his eyes and the football jersey he was wearing. The other man opened the door to the shop and poked his head in but did not speak to her.

When the duo returned at about 4pm with another man, they asked for a loan. Suddenly, one of them lunged across the table and grabbed her by her hair while holding a knife, Ms Yang said.

The other two reportedly kept watch in the front and back of the shop as the first man pulled her around by her hair, looking for the safe, while still holding the knife.

Before they fled, they locked her in the back room.

Staff of the neighbouring unit, a money changer, told ST they heard Ms Yang knocking on the partition between the shops and shouting for help. Madam Lutfunnesa Shahanaz, 50, an assistant manager at the money changer, said: "She seemed very shocked and shaken. She said that someone took their money and ran away. Once we let her out, she called the police."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2020, with the headline Robbery victim 'locked in room, pulled by her hair'. Subscribe