SINGAPORE: Four Vietnamese nationals who stole more than 1,400 pieces of clothing from Uniqlo stores in Singapore were sentenced to jail on Monday (Dec 17).
Van Tu Nguyen, 30, Duong Tuan Dat, 27, and 31-year-old Nguyen Thi Thu Huong were each sentenced to one year and 11 months in jail.
The fourth person, 29-year-old Tran Thi Phuong Thao, received a jail sentence of one year and 10 months.
The clothing they stole, which included hundreds of brassieres, was worth about S$44,600.
The Vietnamese nationals - two men and two women - had formed a plan to come to Singapore to steal from Uniqlo outlets as they did not need visas to travel here, the court heard. The intention was to sell the stolen clothes in Vietnam.
They targeted the Japanese retailer as they had heard that many pieces of clothing did not have sensor tags attached, Deputy Public Prosecutor Shana Poon said.
To avoid setting off the sensor alarm at stores, they prepared special shopping bags with aluminium lining to transport the stolen items out of the shops. They also travelled with empty luggage bags to store the stolen goods.
Pliers and other tools for removing sensor tags were kept in their hotel rooms.
The four shoplifters came to Singapore on social visit passes on Sep 13 this year.
Two days later, they went to the Uniqlo store at Downtown East and stole 50 pieces of winter clothing worth S$4,995.
The store manager called the police, saying that someone had stolen "a lot of things", and that an employee gave chase but the culprit jumped into the bushes and escaped.
Police arrested the four culprits on Sep 16 at Hotel Re along Chin Swee Road, where they found 818 pieces of clothing valued at about S$21,600 and a Hotel 81 room key.
Investigations found that the clothes had been stolen from various Uniqlo outlets across Singapore. The group, however, could not recall which outlets they had stolen from or when exactly they committed the crimes.
A few days later, police investigated a room in Hotel 81 and found four luggage bags which contained 636 stolen pieces of clothing worth about S$23,000.
Investigations showed that the group had moved some of their loot from one hotel to another to minimise suspicion.