Teen gets reformative training for stealing from rental places

A teenager who stole from homes where he had rented rooms, using hospitality service providers such as Airbnb, found out about his next accommodation after being sentenced to reformative training yesterday .

Muhammad Hakim Muhalil, 18, must follow a strict regimen that includes foot drills and counselling.

The school dropout, with a history of being a runaway, had pleaded guilty on Aug 23 to four theft charges and one count each of housebreaking, mischief and fraudulent possession of property. Fourteen other charges for similar offences were taken into consideration during sentencing.

He committed these offences between September last year and this March, and they involved $41,183.31 in total.

He was supposed to have been sentenced earlier this month but disappeared from home again while out on bail. Hakim continued to rent accommodation to steal the other occupants' valuables.

He returned home on Oct 10 only after he found out through social media that his mother was unwell.

Before handing out the sentence yesterday, District Judge May Mesenas told the teenager: "You have committed some very serious offences...and you need to learn a way to be disciplined. You need to make a decision to change."

Hakim committed most of the offences with his then-girlfriend Nor Amelia Natasha Nordin, 20. She has not been dealt with in court.

The couple started their crime spree on Sept 9 last year after they ran away from home together, the court heard. They sought shelter at a friend's home in Eunos Crescent but repaid his kindness by stealing cash and valuables totalling $2,260 from his older brother.

After this, the couple used online platforms to rent accommodation before stealing from their hosts and the other tenants.

On March 2, they used Airbnb and rented a room at Tampines Avenue 4 before stealing almost $9,000 in cash and valuables from a tenant. The police were notified and Hakim was arrested two days later. But he continued committing similar offences while out on bail.

Police arrested the couple in a Jalan Teck Kee unit near Yio Chu Kang Road which they had rented via the Home Away app.

At around 9.15pm on March 21, officers checked the unit and found them inside one of the rooms. The officers also uncovered items including pieces of clothing and jewellery in their possession.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Rimplejit Kaur said some of these items had been stolen from various Airbnb rental units while others had been bought with the proceeds from their criminal activities.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2017, with the headline 'Teen gets reformative training for stealing from rental places'. Print Edition | Subscribe