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Food court manager staged robbery after taking S$26,000 to pay off gambling debts

Accused, who makes full restitution of the amount taken, is jailed for 25 weeks

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Singapore — A longtime food court employee took S$26,000 of the firm’s money to pay off gambling debts, then staged a robbery to make it appear that the robber had taken the money.

On March 12 (Thursday), 49-year-old Lee Kah Yeow pleaded guilty to one count of criminal breach of trust. He was jailed for 25 weeks. 

Lee, who had been working for Kopitiam since 2002 and who was assigned to the Rivervale Plaza Kopitiam outlet, had called the police on March 3 last year, saying a robbery had taken place.

He told the police: “I just got robbed. A man entered my office and took a knife. He asked me for my money and ran off. He is a dark skin Chinese man.”

As he knew that the outlet was monitored by CCTV, he sought help from two men — Tan Lye Meng and Mr Hoi Hoy Leong.  Mr Hoi declined to carry out the fake robbery and suggested that Tan take his place.

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Lee told Tan to make sure he robbed the outlet on Sunday, when there were bigger earnings. Tan was told to bring along a knife and to stick his head into the safe before leaving so as to be filmed by the CCTV camera.

As payment for the “job”, Tan was allowed to pocket whatever was in the safe at that time, which amounted to S$6,000.

Lee had already stolen S$26,000 from the till over a period of time leading up to the fake robbery. He claimed he had about S$40,000 accumulated gambling debts, which he had a hard time paying on his S$2,900 monthly wages.

He was able to take money from the safe at will, since sales, payments from tenants and kiosk sales were kept there, and only one other employee had a key for it.

The fake robbery was set for shortly before noon on March 3 last year. When Tan entered the small office where the safe was located, he threatened Lee with a knife and pointed to a small bag, telling Lee to fill it with the cash from the safe.

After Tan left, Lee called the police.

According to Lee’s lawyer, he has paid back the S$26,000 he stole. His lawyer, Mr Tan Beng Hock, asked for a fine or jail of 16 to 18 weeks.

The maximum penalty for the charge of criminal breach of trust is seven years imprisonment and a fine.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tay Jingxi asked for a six-month jail sentence.

Tan was convicted and sentenced in January this year. /TISG

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