American jailed for 'sleight of hand' theft

American jailed for 'sleight of hand' theft

SINGAPORE - Over two days in October, Jami Noor Mohammad approached staff manning the cash registers of a range of businesses, asking them to swop denominations of cash with him.

In most cases, the 67-year-old American would ask his victims - including restaurants, spectacle shops and a money changer in the Rochor and City Hall area - to change his denominations of Singapore currency notes.

He would generally grab and shuffle the stack of bills his victims took out, on the pretext of choosing specific notes.

In doing so, he hid those he wanted to keep while the staff were distracted or confused.

On Friday, Jami was handed a five-month jail term as punishment for stealing some $4,000 using this modus operandi.

District Judge Liew Thiam Leng said the method was difficult to spot due to the quick movements involved and may have gone undetected without the help of closed-circuit TV camera recordings and the alertness of staff.

The judge also considered that Jami, who has a cataract in one eye and a heart condition, was a first-time offender.

The court heard that Jami approached his seven victims during the evening peak period.

This was when they were more likely to be distracted due to the high volume of human traffic.

Most of the time, money missing as a result of Jami's "sleight of hand" technique would be discovered only at the end of the work day, when the daily takings were being tallied.

Jami, who had been in Singapore on a social visit pass, pleaded guilty to three charges of theft in dwelling, with four other such charges taken into consideration.

The maximum penalty for the offence is seven years in jail and a fine.

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