SINGAPORE - They fished for money meant for the mosque using a metal plate coated with glue.
While targeting donation boxes at the Sultan Mosque, the thieves did so with devious planning and no conscience.
First, they placed a laptop bag with a hole at its bottom over the slit of the donation box.
They then lowered the plate into the box with a string.
From the outside, their hands were hidden by the laptop bag and it looked as if they were rummaging through their belongings.
But they will not be able to use the ruse anymore, thanks to the new improved donation boxes designed by the police and mosque staff.
This technique was used in a series of thefts from donation boxes at religious institutions last year, a police spokesman said.
The "enhanced" donation box was one of several innovations showcased in this year's Police Workplan Seminar and Exhibition at the Home Team Academy yesterday.
The idea came from a team of 11 officers from Rochor Neighbourhood Police Centre.
With the help of mosque staff, they designed a box in which a piece of metal slanted at an angle beneath the opening prevents objects from being inserted into the box.
The metal piece would also prevent people from seeing how much money there is in the box.
Said one of the team members, Assistant Superintendent Han Zechou: "Since we deployed the prototypes at the mosque in January, there have been no cases of theft there.
"We're trying to sell this idea to other religious institutions as we don't want such a case to be reported again."
The new donation boxes cost around $600 each.
The manager of Sultan Mosque, Mr Ustaz Muhamed Khair Rahmat, said that while these improved boxes are not 100 per cent foolproof, they would make it harder for thieves to succeed.