Shahrul Anuar Abdul Aziz was accused of stealing a Lenovo S860 smartphone, valued at RM800 (S$290), from a shop at the plaza on Saturday.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge at a magistrate's court here yesterday.
Clad in a grey T-shirt, Shahrul looked dazed and confused when brought into court.
After magistrate Aminahtul Mardiah Md Nor read the charge to him, he pleaded guilty but muttered "Barang kes tak ada (there is no case evidence)."
Asked by Aminahtul what he meant by that, Shahrul's lawyer Shaharuddin Ali explained that Shahrul had blurted out "exactly what I told him not to say".
Aminahtul then asked Shahrul if he was admitting to stealing the phone and he changed his plea to not guilty.
He faces a jail term of up to 10 years, a fine and whipping if convicted.
DPP Suhaimi Ibrahim asked for bail to be set at RM5,000.
But Shaharuddin asked for a lower sum, saying that Shahrul was unemployed and looking after his disabled parents, as well as his brother and sister.
Aminahtul set bail at RM3,000 and set Aug 14 for the hearing. Shahrul posted bail.
It was reported that the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said two people were arrested at Low Yat Plaza for theft on Saturday but one was later released by an investigating officer.
Khalid said they had stolen a phone from a kiosk and, after hearing cries for help, staff from another shop stepped in to catch the thieves.
Following that incident, the released accomplice reportedly returned to the plaza with a group of seven men and attacked those who had helped nab him and the alleged thief.
Later that evening, more than 100 people gathered at the mall, eventually leading to a riot that saw five people, including three journalists, injured.