When he entered his flat, Mr Nagappan Alagappan found it odd that a colourful external hard disk that he left on the dining table was no longer there.
When he checked the two bedrooms of his three-room HDB flat at Block 801, French Road, near Jalan Besar Stadium, he realised they had been ransacked.
That was when he put two and two together.
Earlier that night on Dec 3, 2013, he had accidentally left his home keys on his letter box at the void deck.
When he went back to retrieve the keys, they were missing.
Mr Nagappan, 41, who works as a manager, told The New Paper yesterday: "The rooms were ransacked. Drawers were pulled open and clothes were all over the floor. The burglar took all our valuables."
The culprit was sentenced yesterday to 28 months' jail for housebreaking.
Manimaran Murugavel received another 12 months in jail for a second offence of drug possession, with the sentences to run consecutively.
Manimaran, 42, was arrested 10 days after he broke into Mr Nagappan's flat.
He carted away almost $36,000 worth of items belonging to his victim's family.
Mr Nagappan, who was with his wife and primary school-going daughter when they discovered the burglary, said: "He had terribly inconvenienced us.
"I lost my laptop, my smartphones and three gold bangles that couldn't be recovered because he had sold them.
"Now I have to get three missing Overseas India Citizen cards replaced and they cost $450 each."
The court was told that Manimaran, who was drinking in the void deck, noticed the set of keys left in the keyhole of Mr Nagappan's letter box.
He took the keys and later went up to the flat. When nobody answered the door, he entered the unit.
The jobless Manimaran then stole an assortment of jewellery, money, electrical appliances and other valuables, using a trolley bag belonging to Mr Nagappan's daughter to cart away the items.
"Today, I still don't have a proper wristwatch," said Mr Nagappan, whose $1,000 dress watch was stolen.
"I'm wearing a free watch that I got from a beer promotion."
The police catalogued 110 items taken by Manimaran. Some of them were retained by the police for investigations.
When Manimaran was caught at the void deck of Block 807, King George's Avenue, he still had some of the stolen jewellery, money and pawn tickets on him.
In mitigation, Manimaran said he was remorseful for what he had done and asked District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim for leniency.
This article was first published on July 10, 2014.
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