SINGAPORE: A 28-year-old man who snatched a gold necklace from the neck of an elderly coffee shop assistant was sentenced to one year in jail – the minimum penalty for his offence – on Tuesday (Sep 14).
Ruben Supramaniam, who was at the time of the offence a work permit holder employed in a hotel kitchen, pleaded guilty to one charge of snatch theft.
According to court documents, the Malaysian national was riding home on his motorcycle at about 3am on Jul 30 this year when he passed Kimly Coffeeshop on Upper Aljunied Lane.
Ruben noticed that the victim, Mr Ngoh Teck King, was sitting alone in the coffee shop. The 72-year-old was working the night shift and the court heard that his shift was from 10.30pm to 7am.
“He saw from afar that the victim wore a gold necklace on his neck, and decided to steal it,” court documents read.
To prepare for his crime, Ruben rode back to his home which was nearby and picked up two black T-shirts.
He hid the pieces of clothing underneath the white T-shirt he was wearing while he was in the lift on the way to the ground floor.
He did so because he knew that there were police cameras in the lift, according to court documents.
Ruben then walked to the coffee shop and wrapped one of the black T-shirts around his head to conceal his face.
He also wore the other black T-shirt over his white top, with the intention to later discard the black T-shirt to further conceal his identity and evade apprehension, said court documents.
When Ruben arrived at the coffee shop at about 3.40am, Mr Ngoh was making coffee for a customer at the drinks stall. Without the victim noticing, Ruben snuck into the drinks stall when the victim's back was turned.
Ruben then grabbed at the victim’s gold necklace from the back, and pulled hard on it. The force of the pull caused the chain to break, court documents showed.
Ruben ran towards the back of a nearby neighbourhood police centre where he took off the black T-shirts he was wearing and discarded them.
Mr Ngoh, who did not suffer any injuries, called the police after the incident.
The next day, Ruben passed the gold necklace to his friend, Vickneswaran Sarevanan, to sell at a pawn shop.
Vickneswaran sold the gold necklace to a pawn shop located in Marsiling for S$1,000. Both the gold necklace and S$1,000 were recovered, according to court documents.
The police said in a previous press release that Tanglin Police Division officers established Ruben’s identity through ground enquiries and with the aid of images from security camera footage. He was arrested within 12 hours.
Ruben could have been jailed for up to seven years and caned.