SINGAPORE: A man who saw an iPhone worth S$1,000 on a grass patch near an HDB block in Ang Mo Kio took it home and did not return it to the owner.
The owner, whose phone had dropped out of his unzipped waist pouch, filed a police report and the accused was eventually located.
On Thursday (Sep 10), 30-year-old Tan Yiap Ming was fined S$3,000 in court for one count of dishonest misappropriation.
The court heard that the owner of the phone, a Mr Wang, had been walking around in an Ang Mo Kio housing estate with the iPhone XR in his waist pouch on Dec 14 last year.
Near Block 202 in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, Mr Wang's phone dropped out of his pouch, which was not zipped up.
About 10 minutes later, Tan walked past, saw the phone lying on a grass patch and kept it.
Mr Wang soon realised that his phone was missing and lodged a police report.
The authorities discovered that there had been multiple attempts to activate the phone and managed to trace it to Tan.
They found it at his home on Mar 12, about three months after it was lost. Tan had not made any efforts to trace the phone to its owner and did not surrender it to the authorities.
The prosecutor asked for a fine of at least S$3,000, noting that Tan had previous convictions of dishonest misappropriation in 2019 and theft in 2010.
Tan initially said that he wanted to return the phone but had no time, and that he was afraid to go to a police station. He also said he tried to unlock the phone to locate the owner but could not. However, he withdrew these statements when told it qualified his plea.
The prosecutor pointed out that investigations showed Tan had connected his phone to the WiFi in his house. Tan had also given another account of why he had not returned the phone to investigators, saying he was afraid because of his previous convictions.
Tan said he is now working in a warehouse storeroom and did not want to say anything in mitigation.
District Judge Jasvender Kaur told him that he was coming to court for the third time for dishonesty and had been given guidance by a counsellor in 2010 but did not learn from it.
"In life, there are many temptations," she said. "You see something lying there, you want to take it, but you must not take it. It's as simple as that. If you come to court for a fourth time, you must go to jail, is that clear? So don't be foolish and be tempted."
Tan wiped away tears from his eyes when he heard this and agreed.
He was allowed to pay his fine in instalments of S$1,000.
For dishonest misappropration, he could have been jailed for up to two years, fined or both.