SINGAPORE: More men have been charged with breaking into buildings to steal copper wires, with the total amount involved now topping S$525,000.
Four men are now accused of stealing S$500,000 worth of wires from 3NC Singapore, a ship building and repair firm. One of these men is linked to another spate of thefts by three other men that saw S$25,000 worth of wires filched from three vacant school buildings.
The bulk of the wires in the new charges tendered in the past week were allegedly stolen by four men aged between 27 and 36.
Bangladeshi nationals Mamun, Ahamed Mahfuz, Alam Mohammad Khorshed and Islam Dwin are accused of breaking into the building housing 3NC Singapore ship building and repair company at 16 Tuas Avenue 1 to cut and remove all the wires there.
They allegedly cut the fencing and entered the building through a hole to steal S$500,000 worth of copper wires between Apr 6 and Apr 24.
One of these men, Islam, is linked to several other similar thefts of copper wire. He was initially charged on Apr 25 with stealing 210m of copper cable worth S$11,000 with accomplice Miah Shobus from the vacant Tampines Junior College building at 3.36am on Apr 23.
Miah, a 30-year-old Bangladeshi national, was charged on Apr 25 with stealing electrical wires from the former Jurong Junior College at 11.30pm on Jan 21 with another accomplice, Bangladeshi Jan Shak Mohabbat.
Jan received seven new charges last week, accusing him of breaking into vacant school buildings to steal about S$14,000 worth of copper wires with Miah and Singaporean Om Shakti Tiwari.
According to charge sheets, Jan, Miah and Om broke into the premises of the former Jurong JC on the night of Jan 24 to steal S$2,634 worth of copper wires owned by the Ministry of Education (MOE).
On another occasion in February, the three men allegedly climbed over the perimeter fencing at Jurong JC to steal more wires. They are also accused of stealing S$4,260 worth of copper wires from Hong Kah Secondary School on the night of Feb 29.
The three men were said to have broken into the vacant building that formerly housed Tampines JC in March for the same purpose.
They allegedly stole S$3,976 worth of wires from this building on the night of Apr 7, before returning on the night of Apr 16 to steal S$3,478.50 worth of copper wires.
Jan and Om are also linked to Islam, as they are accused of entering an opening in the fence at Tampines JC to steal copper wires sometime in March.
ISLAM FOUND WITH SUSPECTED STOLEN PROPERTY AT SCRAP METAL DEALER
Islam has received four new charges, tendered over the past week. He is accused of possessing suspected stolen property at scrap metal dealer PM Recycle at Pioneer Centre on Jan 27.
He allegedly had on him 267 units of copper wire, eight units of brass, 50 units of copper pipe and 10 units of wire worth S$729.40 in total.
Another charge states that he possessed 106 stolen units of pipe and 276 units of open copper wire at the same scrap metal dealer on Apr 1.
Most of the men involved are remanded and will return to court for further mentions of their cases either next week or next month.
MOE told CNA after the case first went to court last month that it is aware of the incidents that took place at the former campuses of Tampines JC and Jurong JC.
It said that both campuses are currently vacant and not in use, and that it has employed contractors to provide maintenance and security services at the former campuses.
Tampines JC has merged with Meridian JC to become Tampines Meridian JC, moving into the former Meridian JC's compounds, while Jurong JC merged similarly with Pioneer JC to become Jurong Pioneer JC.
The penalties for housebreaking to commit theft are a maximum 10 years' jail and a fine.
For each charge of possessing property suspected to be stolen, Islam can be jailed for up to a year, fined up to S$3,000, or both.