SINGAPORE - When a 63-year-old man stopped along Upper Bukit Timah Road to refuel his lorry on Monday (July 31) afternoon, he noticed another man leaving the petrol station on a black motorcycle with a masked licence plate.
Sensing that something was amiss, he tailed the rider to the Hillview area, stopping only when he thought the other man may have noticed him.
He then reported what he saw to the authorities.
The rider turned out to be a suspect in an armed robbery that had taken place at the Shell petrol station.
The police were alerted to the incident around 12.50pm that day.
Within four hours, the 48-year-old rider was arrested for allegedly robbing a petrol station employee at knifepoint - in what the police called a "brazen act".
Senior Assistant Commissioner Gerald Lim, who is commander of the Clementi Police Division, said: "The perpetrator came in, pointed a knife, and threatened the staff at the petrol station. He managed to get away with more than $1,100 in cash."
The suspect was said to have threatened a 22-year-old employee manning the register. He ordered her to place cash from the register into a plastic bag.
The employee stayed calm during the incident, said the police, who added that she had a keen sense of observation.
When asked, a Shell spokesman said the employee will be commended for managing the situation well under pressure and ensuring the safety of her co-workers and customers. She has been with the station for 10 months.
The spokesman added that in such cases, supervisors and staff are trained to remain calm and not put themselves at risk.
The police said the suspect, who worked at a cleaning company, wore a helmet, sunglasses and gloves when he allegedly committed the act.
Police officers worked with eyewitnesses and the petrol station's staff in reviewing closed-circuit television footage to eventually identify the motorcycle used.
"We subsequently found out where (the suspect's) haunts were, established ambush points, and managed to pick him up around Jurong East Street 21 on the same day, at about 4.50pm," added SAC Lim.
This was near the suspect's home.
Bank receipts, $499 in cash, and a motorcycle belonging to a member of the suspect's family were seized as evidence.
But the knife he allegedly used has not been recovered, as the suspect said he dropped it, according to the police, who are still in the process of interviewing the man.
This was the first time in 10 years that a cashier at a petrol kiosk had been robbed, said SAC Lim.
If found guilty, the suspect faces a jail term of up to 10 years and 12 strokes of the cane.