SINGAPORE: A police officer who was entrusted to collect lost-and-found wallets at a police station filched the cash inside and used it for his own expenses instead.
For one count of criminal breach of trust by a servant, 24-year-old Isaac Lim Jun Cheng was jailed for three months on Wednesday (Mar 25).
The court heard that Lim was employed by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and attached to the Pasir Ris Neighbourhood Police Centre as a ground response force officer.
He took a total of S$207 in cash from wallets that had been found and handed to him on three occasions between June 2018 and November 2018.
Two of those incidents took place in June 2018 and August 2018, when he took at least S$27 in total and used it for his own expenses, the court heard.
He lodged reports to document receiving these two wallets, but deliberately omitted mentioning the cash when describing the wallets' contents, in order to avoid detection.
HAWKER GIVEN WALLET, TRIED TO RETURN IT
On Nov 18, 2018, a woman went to Tampines Neighbourhood Police Centre and reported losing her wallet, a coin purse, personal cards and cash, saying she had last seen her belongings when having lunch at Changi Village Hawker Centre two days ago.
A passer-by had found her wallet and passed it to a drinks stall hawker, Mr Balakrishna Kandasamy.
Mr Balakrishna noticed cash and cards in the wallet and recognised the picture on the NRIC, as the woman was a regular customer of his.
He kept the wallet with him, intending to return it to the woman if he saw her again. However, she did not turn up and Mr Balakrishna asked his son to help return the wallet to the address listed on the cards.
No one was at home when the boy went there to the address. Mr Balakrishna then took the wallet to Pasir Ris Neighbourhood Police Centre at noon on Nov 26, 2018, to hand it over to the police.
Lim, who was on duty that day, attended to him and took the wallet before asking Mr Balakrishna to leave.
Lim removed S$180 in cash from the wallet and kept it in his own pocket, and did not lodge a report documenting receipt of the woman's wallet.
He contacted the woman and told her that her wallet had been found, but when she went to the station to collect it, she realised that the cash was missing.
She asked Lim about it, and Lim lied to her that the wallet had been found by the side of a road.
He spent the money on his own expenses, but the truth came to light when the woman ran into Mr Balakrishna at the hawker centre.
The woman told the hawker about the missing notes, and Mr Balakrishna told her that he had seen them inside the wallet when he handed it over to the police.
Suspecting something amiss, the woman lodged a police report about the missing cash and investigations uncovered Lim's actions.
For criminal breach of trust as a servant, Lim could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.
A spokesperson for the SPF told CNA that the force has commenced disciplinary proceedings against Lim, who has been suspended since Jan 25, 2019.
"The SPF take the security of found property placed in police custody very seriously," said the spokesperson.
"There are measures in place to ensure safe and proper handling of all found property. This was an isolated case and does not represent the professional and disciplined conduct of the rest of our SPF officers."
SPF added that its officers are expected to uphold the law and maintain the highest standards of conduct and integrity.
"We deal severely with officers who break the law, including charging them in court," it said.