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Police officer fined for calling police to report 'stolen bicycle' after losing key to lock

Police officer fined for calling police to report 'stolen bicycle' after losing key to lock

File photo of a bicycle secured with a lock. (Photo: iStock)

SINGAPORE: After losing the key to his locked bicycle, a police officer searched two shopping malls for a cutting tool to remove the lock to no avail.

When his friends jokingly suggested that he call the police to report a stolen bicycle in order to get "free service" to unlock his bike, the officer did so.

The false police report resulted in three police officers being deployed to the scene and the activation of manpower from multiple police departments including an investigation officer.

Ong Chee Seng, 50, was fined S$3,000 on Thursday (Oct 21). He pleaded guilty to one charge of knowingly giving false information to a public servant, with a second similar charge taken into consideration.

The court heard that Ong was an officer with the Singapore Police Force at the time of the offences.

On the morning of May 26 this year, he rode his foldable bicycle to Waterway Point shopping mall in Punggol to buy lunch. He secured his bicycle at a bicycle bay with a lock and kept the key in his pocket.

However, when he later returned to the bay, he could not find the key. Ong retraced his steps to search for the key but was unsuccessful.

Eventually, he took the train home and left the bicycle at the mall. Later that day, he went to Compass One shopping mall in neighbouring Sengkang before heading back to Waterway Point to search for equipment to remove his bicycle lock.

Ong could not find any stores selling the cutter he required. He also approached the security counter at Waterway Point and asked to borrow a cutter, but was rejected as the team could not verify if the bicycle was his.

At 3.50pm that day, Ong sent a message to a WhatsApp group chat he shared with six other participants. He asked his friend Alan if he could borrow a cutter from him, but Alan did not have one.

Another friend teased Ong and jokingly suggested that he call the police. He should claim that he found his bicycle and pretend it was previously stolen, the friend said.

The police would then give him "free service" and assist him with freeing his locked bicycle, his friend suggested. He added that Ong should take pictures of his locked bicycle and show it to the investigation officer. None of the group chat members actually expected Ong to call the police.

HE ACTUALLY CALLS THE POLICE

At 5.30pm the same day, Ong went online to look up the Punggol Neighbourhood Police Centre hotline and dialled the number provided. 

He told the police officer on the line: "I found my stolen bicycle here at bicycle bay of Waterway Point, I need police assistance."

As a result, an investigation officer was assigned to Ong's case and two ground response officers were dispatched to the bicycle bay. One of them asked Ong what happened, and Ong told him that one of the bicycles locked there belonged to him.

The officer asked Ong where he had previously parked the bicycle, and Ong falsely pointed to another location that was within walking distance. He lied that he had parked and secured his bicycle along the railing before going into the mall to purchase food.

When he returned, the bicycle was missing, he claimed. He further claimed that he chanced upon his bike secured with a bicycle lock at the location when he searched for it that same day. Ong said all this despite knowing it was false.

The police officer continued to press Ong for special engravings or serial numbers on his bike, but Ong did not know of any. He showed the officer pictures of his bicycle and the officer commenced scene investigations.

The officer took a photo of Ong, and Ong asked why this was necessary. The officer replied that it was for the purpose of matching his attire to closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage, as the police would check it to verify if the bicycle belonged to him.

At this point, Ong knew the game was up as he would be shown in CCTV footage placing the bicycle at the bicycle bay. He then admitted that nobody had stolen his bike and that he had lost the key to his bicycle lock. 

As a result of Ong's false information, manpower from multiple Singapore Police Force (SPF) departments was activated to conduct further investigations, the prosecutor said.

Ong's lawyer said the offence was committed "really out of sheer stupidity", and not with any malice.

For knowingly providing false information to a public servant, Ong could have been fined up to S$5,000.

Responding to CNA's queries, SPF said its officers "are expected to uphold the law and maintain the highest standards of conduct and integrity".

"We deal with officers who break the law severely, including charging them in court."

The offences of providing false information were disclosed against Ong on the same day he lodged the false report, added SPF.

Investigations were subsequently carried out and Ong was interdicted on Sep 3.

SPF said it has commenced "internal action" against Ong following his conviction.

Source: CNA/ll(zl)

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