Guatemalan arrested with $300k worth of stolen items

SINGAPORE - With $300,000 worth of stolen items like branded watches and jewellery, the Guatemalan man was apparently ready to flee Singapore.

He was in a hotel with his belongings and was believed to be heading for the airport later that day, on Tuesday.

But his plans were thwarted when the police arrived at the hotel and he found himself surrounded and outnumbered.

The Guatemalan man, who had entered Singapore on Oct 14 on a social visit pass, was arrested.

He will be charged in court today, and if convicted, faces a jail term of up to 14 years.

Yesterday, at a police press conference at Tanglin Police Division, officers said the man was a suspect in three house break-ins between Oct 18 and Oct 27 in the Bukit Timah and Thomson Road areas.

He allegedly broke into two houses at Bukit Timah Road between Coronation Shopping Plaza and King Albert Park, and another at Thomson Road.

The Bukit Timah homes belonged to expatriates, while the owner of the Thomson Road home is a Singaporean, said a police spokesman.

The suspect is believed to be involved in six other break-ins around the island.

Mr Lu Yeow Lim, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police and Commander of Tanglin Police Division, said that the suspect kept the loot in a room at a rented private apartment at Claymore Road, in the Orchard Road area.

More than 30 police officers had spent three days hunting him down, finally getting a break in the case earlier this week, said the police spokesman.

The officers tracked the suspect to a budget hotel at Balestier Road on Tuesday and raided his room at about 11am, as he was about to leave for the airport.

Officers later recovered 22 watches of different brands including Tag Heuer, Rolex, Cartier and Omega.

They also recovered 35 pieces of jewellery at the suspect's rented room in the private apartment. Also found were cash in various currencies in small amounts. The stash included Singaporean, Japanese, Australian and US currency.

Mr Lu said the break-ins seemed to suggest that more than one person was involved.

He said that breaking into these homes required the suspect to climb over fences or walls to enter the compounds.

The suspect allegedly entered the homes from the back doors via kitchen windows.

The safes in all three homes were also allegedly removed and, so far, have not been recovered.

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