Stolen van found 15 hours later with suspected drugs

He left his van parked just outside a childcare centre for less than five minutes, but that was all the time it took for financial adviser Khristian Kelvin Koh's vehicle to be stolen.

Three suspects have been arrested and the van recovered. A small packet of a crystalline substance, suspected to be controlled drugs, and a drug-taking utensil were found in the vehicle.

When Mr Koh, 40, carried his 21/2-year-old daughter into My First Skool in Guillemard Crescent last Friday, he left his one-month-old van unlocked with the keys inside.

It was parked less than 3m away from the gate of the childcare centre, and Mr Koh said: "The road is usually empty."

Yet when he got back less than five minutes later, his Nissan NV200 was gone. He made a police report immediately, and soon afterwards put out a plea on social media to get the public to help.

Throughout the day, he received close to 10 calls and messages. One message came from someone who had briefly spotted his van barrelling along Tampines Expressway in the early afternoon at about 110kmh.

Mr Koh's distressing predicament, though uncommon, is not unheard of. There were 67 cases of motor vehicle theft in the first half of this year, a 10 per cent drop from the 74 cases reported in the same period last year, according to the police's mid-year crime statistics.

Mr Khristian Kelvin Koh found that the people who had stolen his van had thrown away many of his personal belongings. They even altered his licence plate, and clocked around 400km in the 15 hours they had the vehicle.
Mr Khristian Kelvin Koh found that the people who had stolen his van had thrown away many of his personal belongings. They even altered his licence plate, and clocked around 400km in the 15 hours they had the vehicle. PHOTO: COURTESY OF KHRISTIAN KELVIN KOH

Mr Koh said the van contained his house keys and home address. "We called the locksmith to change the locks for our home," he said.

He had to wait until about 11.15pm that same day before he got a call from the police, telling him they had his vehicle at Woodlands Checkpoint.

When he got there and checked it, he found that the people who had stolen it had thrown away many of his personal belongings. To his shock, he found that the thieves had driven around 400km in the 15 hours they had his van. They even altered his licence plate.

But the vehicle was not damaged.

A statement from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority yesterday said three Singaporeans were arrested at Woodlands Checkpoint at about 9.55pm last Friday. Two were men aged 27 and 23, while the other was a 23-year-old woman.

Police investigations are ongoing.

Said Mr Koh: "I'm quite worried there might be drug residues in my van. I don't want my children to come across them."

He added: "We take our safety for granted. But as they say, low crime doesn't mean no crime."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2017, with the headline 'Stolen van found 15 hours later with suspected drugs'. Print Edition | Subscribe