Liquor shop owners Irene Yeo, 58, and John Yeo, 59, have not been having the best week. Yeo Buan Heng Liquor Shop on Chander Road, the family business which the Yeo siblings co-run, experienced two robberies in the space of only 24 hours. The culprits were a group of teens, one of them being an 18-year-old who was a regular customer in their shop. The police eventually recovered a total of $8,000 worth of merchandise that had been pilfered.
Irene was in the liquor shop in Little India on Monday, October 15, when three teens walked in. One was the above-mentioned 18-year-old who Irene had seen in the shop many times before. He was with two friends, teens Irene did not know. He immediately went to her, asking for help to clean and bandage his bleeding leg.
Unbeknownst to Irene, as she was tending to the teen’s injury, his friends were robbing her behind her back of several liquor bottles, which they stashed in their bags.
Irene only discovered the theft after the teens had left. Since the 18-year-old was a regular customer, she had his information in the shop’s log. As she suspected it was them who took the merchandise, she called him and asked him.
Surprisingly, the teen confessed and returned the items that night at Irene’s request.
Irene said that she decided that she would not report them to the police “because they are still young and I took pity on them.”
If Irene thought all was well when she went to bed that night, she had no idea what the morning would bring.
When Irene and John opened shop the next day, they were shocked to see that it had been broken into. The shop, which had been in the current location for 50 years (the family business was 80 years old) was in a state – drawers had been ransacked, cash was missing, expensive liquor and cigarettes were taken, and so had their cheques and chequebooks.
“I first noticed that the back door was slightly open. When I went in, the whole place was in a mess, with all the cash and cheques missing,” said John, who was the first to arrive.
The siblings alerted the police of the break-in as well as the bleeding leg ruse earlier on Monday.
After investigations utilizing a police camera that had a view of the back of the liquor shop, police arrested six teens – a 14-year-old, three 15-year-olds, a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old believed to be the teenager with the bleeding leg.
When the police showed them the footage, the Yeos recognized the boys from the earlier bleeding leg incident.
The police, after a raid of the teens’ homes, were able to recover some of the stolen items.
Police receipts showed that the current amount of merchandise stolen amounted to about $8,000. Investigations are still ongoing and the police still do not have the total amount stolen overall.
Some of the items recovered were two three-liter bottles of Martell cognac worth around $2,500. Other bottles for liquor and several cartons of cigarettes were also recovered.
Irene shared that she felt bitter that the teens had betrayed her, as she had even gone out of her way to help them. Because of pity, she had also not called the police on them after the first robbery.
“I should never have given them a second chance,” she said. “Thankfully the police responded very quickly, I’m very appreciative for their help.”