SINGAPORE: Four Vietnamese tourists have been jailed 28 months each for stealing over S$17,000 worth of clothes from H&M and Zara in less than 48 hours. A fifth man, the mastermind, was jailed 31 months.
The quintet arrived in Singapore via Malaysia on Jan 27 this year, and went on their stealing spree at the ION Orchard shopping mall the next day.
Mastermind Dinh Ngoc Luan, 27, had intended to sell the stolen clothing in Vietnam, and gave the rest of the gang, aged between 25 and 28, instructions on which items they ought to steal.
In the shopping mall, Hoang Ding Cong would stand in a pre-arranged spot with a piece of luggage, while Nguyen Quoc Hung, Nguyen Thi Luong and Dang Bich Thao would enter a store together with Dinh, armed with brown paper bags to contain the stolen clothing.
The paper bags were later found to have been lined with other materials, which is believed to be the reason why security alarm systems failed to detect the unpaid items.
After each haul, the thieves would transfer the stolen clothing from the paper bags into the waiting luggage, before targeting another store.
Three of them were caught red-handed by police officers patrolling the shopping mall, and were subsequently arrested. The remaining two fled, but were caught while attempting to leave Singapore via the Woodlands Checkpoint.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sivabalan Thanabal said the group, having come to Singapore “specifically with the intent to commit shoplifting”, had clearly abused the hospitality of the country. He urged the court to impose jail terms sufficient to “deter like-minded groups from targeting Singapore”.
The DPP also said the stealing spree was well-planned, noting that the the group managed to steal items of clothing worth S$17,380 in less than 48 hours after arriving in Singapore.
For theft, the five could have been jailed up to seven years and fined.