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Safe-distancing ambassador stole Lego sets while deployed at mall, gets jail

The 34-year-old stole Lego sets from Toys "R" Us and a backrest from Self-Fix at VivoCity.

SINGAPORE: A man who was deployed to a mall as a safe-distancing ambassador during the COVID-19 pandemic stole from shops instead, selling Lego sets he filched from Toys "R" Us.

The court heard that he was a serial thief with convictions dating back to 2007.

Muhammad Israfael Abdullah was given 20 weeks' jail on Thursday (Sep 8). The 34-year-old pleaded guilty to two counts of theft, with two other charges taken into consideration.

The court heard that Israfael was deployed to VivoCity in HarbourFront as a safe-distancing ambassador. While on duty on Jun 13 this year, he went to Toys "R" Us three times and stole three Lego sets worth about S$540 by placing them in a tote bag.

He immediately put up advertisements online and sold the Lego sets to an unknown buyer at the vehicle drop-off point at VivoCity that same day.

He received S$100 for the sale and went back to the mall to steal a backrest worth about S$110 from the Self-Fix store.

Israfael's acts were captured on closed-circuit television cameras. A manager of Toys "R" Us lodged an electronic police report that afternoon and Israfael was arrested.

The S$100 cash was seized from him, as well as the backrest. The Lego sets have not been recovered and no restitution has been made, said the prosecutor. 

Israfael's charges taken into consideration show that he had stolen from the shops at VivoCity on other occasions: He took Lego sets and a pocket fishing game worth about S$168 in total on Jun 4 this year, and five Lego sets worth about S$390 on Jun 11 this year.

The prosecutor asked for 20 weeks' jail. He listed Israfael's previous convictions: He was sentenced to probation in 2007 for theft, and breached his probation a month later. For his breach, he was fined but instead served four days' jail in default.

In 2009, he was convicted of theft and having unlawful carnal connection with a minor, for which he received seven weeks' jail.

In 2017, he was jailed two weeks for theft. In 2019, he was given four weeks' jail for theft. His latest conviction was in August last year, when he received six weeks' jail for theft.

The prosecutor said the theft in the present case was premeditated and that Israfael was deployed to perform his duties as a safe-distancing ambassador but instead stole from the shops.

"Immediately after stealing the Lego sets, the accused sold them for profit," said the prosecutor.

The judge told Israfael that he read his mitigation plea and will not be considering a community-based sentence given that he has "so many past offences".

Asked if he had anything else to say, Israfael said: "Whatever it is, I am prepared to take the 20 weeks."

The judge told him: "I hope at some point you will stop stealing. If you continue to do so, you can expect heavier sentences."

He allowed Israfael to defer his jail term to October to settle some matters, and asked Israfael to stay in court for a while after his case to speak to a court counsellor.

For theft, he could have been jailed up to seven years and fined.

Source: CNA/ll(zl)


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