Suspected loan shark runner nabbed for setting fire to flats

Suspected loan shark runner nabbed for setting fire to flats
The 31-year-old suspect was taken to the scene of the crime at Block 272, Toh Guan Road, yesterday, escorted by police officers.
PHOTO: WANBAO

Police have arrested a man, believed to be a loan shark runner, who was involved in at least five cases of harassment involving fire islandwide.

The 31-year-old man was arrested on Monday at Lorong 5 Toa Payoh after setting his last fire on Saturday at Block 272, Toh Guan Road.

The fire destroyed the front doors of two units on the 12th storey of the block.

Residents believe the loan sharks were deterred by closed-circuit television cameras installed outside the debtor's 11th storey unit and decided to target his neighbours' flats instead.

Following the fire, the police arrested the suspect and seized cans of paint, bicycle chain locks and marker pens.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the suspect is believed to be involved in more than 10 cases of loan shark harassment islandwide, including at least five cases involving fire.

The suspect is expected to be charged today for loan shark harassment.

The two residents whose doors were burnt said they were relieved the man had been caught, and hoped such an incident would not happen again.

One of them, a man in his 20s who wanted to be known as Mr Lim, told The New Paper: "I didn't expect something like that to happen to me, and I hope the police step up enforcement."

His neighbour, who wanted to be known as Madam Liu, 76, blamed her luck and said she would have to pay for her own repairs.

Lianhe Wanbao reported that the suspect was taken to the scene of the crime yesterday in restraints, escorted by six police officers.

He was seen answering questions from the officers before being led away.

'ZERO TOLERANCE'

Mr Loh Kah Wai, who heads the Unlicensed Money Lending Strikeforce of the Specialised Crime Division, said in a statement yesterday: "Police have zero tolerance against such lawless acts of loan shark harassment involving fire which threaten the community's sense of safety.

"We will continue with our tough enforcement action and spare no effort to nab these offenders to ensure that they face the full consequences of their actions."

Under the Moneylenders Act, first-time offenders found guilty of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender, committing or attempting to commit any acts of harassment, can be jailed up to five years, fined up to $50,000, and caned up to six strokes.

davidsun@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 17, 2015.
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