For months, several companies had metal equipment stolen from their premises.
It was a disturbing trend and when the police mounted an operation in 2006 to nab the culprits, the Commander of the Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) was the one who directed it.
Yesterday, after nine years as the Commander of VSC, he retired, but is still keen on contributing his skills in maintaining law and order. Retired Assistant Commissioner (AC) (V) S. Lakshmanan, 56, joined the Singapore Police Force in 1980 and left in 1994.
He joined the VSC that year and became its commander in 2005.
Now the business development director of a company that operates foreign worker dormitories, he is married with three children aged between 20 and 27 years old and is also grandfather to a four-month-old girl and a one-year-old boy.
Speaking to The New Paper on Monday, he recalled directing the operation to catch foreign workers who stole metal parts such as wires and cables.
Working together with regular police officers, the VSC arrested about 20 people who were caught just before they sold their loot.
He said: "These workers stole from the construction sites where they worked and sold off the items to second-hand stores. We ambushed them and caught them as they were making their sale."
The police said that there were 1,087 cases of metal theft in 2006 and common items included lightning conductors and drain covers.
The metal items stolen that year were worth about $4 million in all.
Made up of volunteers who also hold civilian jobs, VSC officers have the same powers as other police officers in enforcing law and order in Singapore.
Retired AC (V) Lakshmanan was the longest-serving Commander of VSC. Deputy AC Chua Chuan Seng, 47, the former Commander of Certis Cisco Auxiliary Police Force, takes over from today.
With his expertise and wealth of experience, Retired AC (V) Lakshmanan said he hoped to continue contributing to the police force in the future.
He has received accolades including the Public Service Star and Public Service Medal.
He said: "Once a policeman, always a policeman."
He first realised he had a knack for performing enforcement work when he worked for the Singapore Customs in 1979 before being transferred to the police force the following year.
During his time as VSC commander, he mobilised about 700 VSC officers for S2006. This large international event in 2006 included the annual meetings of the boards of governors of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
He said: "VSC officers are volunteers who have day jobs. For S2006, they had to use their own annual leave to perform their police duties.
"I worked hard for three to four months, visiting the different police units and divisions to reach out to them."
Retired AC (V) Lakshmanan, who performed around 50 hours of police duties, admitted that he had to skip family events like his relatives' weddings when he was with the VSC.
With his retirement, he can finally spend more time with his family, especially his grandchildren.
He said: "My youngest child, who is still serving his national service in the Army, has expressed his interest to join the VSC.
"I'm glad to know he may be following in my footsteps."