While at a bus stop, the 12-year-old girl used her smartphone to message her friends.
But her grey Samsung Galaxy S3 caught the eye of Mohammad Razin Jamil, who was riding a bicycle.
The 43-year-old snatched the phone from the girl's hands and cycled away.
Yesterday, Razin was jailed for four years on one charge of snatch theft and two charges of shoplifting.
Another charge of fraudulent possession was also taken into consideration.
On April 1, at a bus stop opposite Tanglin Secondary School, Razin asked to borrow the girl's mobile phone.
When she refused, he snatched it and rode away. His victim gave chase, but could not catch him.
Razin sold the phone to a shop in Geylang for $140. The phone was worth around $800 at that time.
He also pleaded guilty to shoplifting in a supermarket and an accessories shop.
In court, Deputy Public Prosecutor Terence Szetoh Khai Hoe said Razin was a recalcitrant offender and his case involving a 12-year-old girl was a serious offence.
Razin had previous convictions for a string of property-related offences since 1992, culminating in a preventive detention in 2004.
District Judge Jasvender Kaur said during sentencing that Razin did not appear to be repentant.
"You have been going in and out of prison... Your record itself is an aggravating factor," the judge said.
Razin's jail term was backdated to April 5, when he was remanded.
This article was first published on June 26, 2014.
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