Man steals from mosque

Man steals from mosque
A file photo shows a mosque donation box.

He saw a standing plastic donation box lying on its side on the floor when he woke up to use the toilet in the early morning.

Thinking that it could have fallen down due to a strong wind since it was near the entrance of the mosque, Mr Bappalige More Mahamad Asheef put it back up.

The bilal (muezzin) of Malabar Muslim Jama-ath Mosque in Victoria Street noticed a crack on the box but thought nothing of it until the following morning, when he was cleaning the area and discovered a similar crack on another donation box.

After checking, he realised that about $300 had been emptied from the second box.

This incident, which happened on May 17, would later prove to be the first of three burglary cases that struck the 51-year-old mosque.

There were five such cases reported from May to July islandwide, said the police.

In most case, the culprit broke into the mosques after closing hours and forced open the donation boxes.

The two other cases at Malabar Muslim Jama-ath Mosque happened on May 28 and June 10. A total of three donation boxes were removed from outside the main prayer hall and discarded at the back of the mosque after their contents were emptied.

When reviewing closed circuit television footage, it was revealed that on the first two occasions, the suspect had gained entry by climbing over the fence near the kitchen.

The footage of the second incident showed the suspect trying to open the donation box. When he failed to get it open, he even tried using his legs.

After many failed attempts, he shifted his attention to another box and eventually managed to break it free from the chain.

The man took the box away and returned to the area outside the main prayer hall for "a second helping".

When he struck a third time, it was in the morning, instead of night.

After walking in through the main entrance, he went to the washing area to wash himself clean as any other Muslim devotees would, in order to avoid suspicion.

PRIED BOX OPEN

CCTV cameras captured him going into the main prayer hall to "pray" and pretending to dig for money from his pocket when he came out. He then started to prise the donation box open and he stooped to hide from passers-by.

He eventually managed to break the box free from its chain and take it away, leaving through the main entrance.

The mosque's chairman, Mr Osman Abdullah, 68, told The New Paper that the mosque's committee had not seen the suspect before these burglary incidents. He also revealed that about $1,200 has been lost.

A police spokesman said that a 41-year-old suspect was arrested at Geylang Serai at about 5.15pm on Wednesday. He is expected to be charged in court today with housebreaking and theft by night.


This article was first published on July 18, 2014.
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