13 weeks' jail for man who stole phones from kids

13 weeks' jail for man who stole phones from kids

A jobless man who stole mobile phones from schoolchildren - and even punched a 12-year-old boy on the chin when he chased him - was jailed for 13 weeks yesterday.

From November 2012 to January last year, Tan Teck Choot, 49, tricked or coerced six children in Jurong into handing over their phones to him before walking off with them.

On Feb 6, 2013, he approached a 10-year-old girl outside her school and told her he wanted to borrow her phone to make some calls. He then pocketed the phone and walked away.

Two days later, he used the same ruse on a 12-year-old boy. When the boy sought help from passers-by, Tan told them the boy was his son. During the commotion, the boy was able to retrieve his phone from Tan's pocket, after which the man left the area.

Tan was caught on Jan 27 last year, after his final victim and two good Samaritans chased him down. The 11-year-old victim was on his way home when Tan accosted him, asked for directions and later demanded that the boy hand over his phone. The frightened boy handed it over but followed Tan. Along the way, he encountered Mr Muhammad Danial Anwar and asked him for help. Mr Danial called the police and also chased Tan.

A 12-year-old boy joined the pursuit. Tan threw the phone on the ground and tried to flee, but the 12-year-old grabbed his haversack to stop him. Tan punched the boy on the chin and fled. The 12-year-old caught up with Tan at a void deck. He offered the boy $70 not to hand him over to the police, but the boy refused.

None of the children can be named due to a gag order.

Tan appeared distraught in the dock, turning frequently to look at his wife and 15-year-old son.

He admitted to six charges of criminal breach of trust, two of corruptly offering gratification and one of voluntarily causing hurt.

Five of the nine charges proceeded to sentencing and the rest were taken into consideration.

For each charge of criminal breach of trust, he could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined. For voluntarily causing hurt, he could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000.

oliviaho@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 19, 2015.
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