Sharon Au's burglars strolled past her with her belongings but she didn't realise

Sharon Au's burglars strolled past her with her belongings but she didn't realise
Sharon Au moved to Paris in 2018 and worked as an investment director at a private equity firm there.
PHOTO: Instagram/Sharon Au

The two men who broke into Sharon Au's apartment in Paris and stole her valuables later brazenly strolled past a restaurant where the former Mediacorp artiste was dining in, pushing their loot in two of her suitcases.

The 47-year-old could have spotted them, or at least her suitcases – one in rose pink and another a striking silver, with stickers she had collected over the years – if only she had looked out the window of the restaurant.

"I was having dinner with friends at a place just a five-minute walk from my apartment. The burglars were captured on a CCTV outside the restaurant. They were walking past very nonchalantly, very slowly. They weren't running," she says in a telephone interview. 

The former actress-host moved to Paris in 2018 and worked as an investment director at a private equity firm there. 

But her dream life there was rudely interrupted by the burglary on April 30, 2022, which she calls the worst day of her year.

She declined to reveal how much she lost, but says: "The doors were destroyed, the place was ransacked. They opened every drawer, every box. They clearly didn't want to miss out on any valuables or jewellery."

The burglars have not been caught and the only witness was Au's two-year-old cat Rudon, which was fortunately unharmed. 

She says: "I try not to count what I lost. But I keep reminding myself of what I did not lose, which is Rudon and my own life. Thankfully, I wasn't home or I could have been attacked." 

Singaporeans travelling to Paris who contacted Au on Instagram to offer help made her feel the kindness of strangers. 

Still, the incident was traumatic for Au and her pet.

"For two whole months, my cat would scurry off and hide under the bed at the slightest sound, even if it's just me knocking my knee against something or someone at the door. When you witness this on a daily basis, it makes you very upset. It was only when he got better that my own recovery could begin," she says.


But she took a much longer time to feel better. Nightmares – of what might have happened if she was home during the break-in – plagued her for half a year. She felt unsafe, fearful and paranoid.

It was not until she flew back to Singapore to attend her friend and local actress Rebecca Lim's wedding in November 2022 that things began looking up again.

Au says: "When your mind is occupied with another person's happiness, in this case, coming back to attend such a wonderful, happy, blessed event, it doesn't matter that the happiness isn't yours per se, it's still so infectious."

Her journey to recovery also includes quitting her job, which she did shortly after the burglary. She has yet to find new employment and is living on her savings as she takes time to heal.

"I don't want to rush into anything. I don't want my recovery to be half-baked. I've been through therapy so I know the process and I know it's unhealthy to jump into something that makes you forget, be it work or a relationship.

"I didn't want to make that the solution. I want to really deal with it."

Part of her solution is surrounding herself with the support of friends and family.

Au is now in Tokyo visiting her foster family. She has kept in touch with them since she stayed with them as an exchange student when she was 17.

She visited the onsen town of Yugawara in Kanagawa prefecture with her foster parents and spent New Year's Day with them – something that was an annual affair until the pandemic struck. 

"I always spend omisoka (New Year's Eve) here, I do the hatsumode (the Japanese tradition of visiting a shrine in the first days of the new year) here too. My last time was the new year of 2020, so it's nice to be back," she says.


Beyond being a second home, Japan is formative for Au. In 2005, at the age of 30 and at the height of her television career, she took a Mediacorp scholarship to do undergraduate studies at Waseda University in Tokyo.

"To find back that old, optimistic me – there's no better place than Japan because it's where I grew into my most confident self. It gave me the space to explore what I like and what I'm good at." 

She has yet to firm up plans, but is likely to return to Singapore for Chinese New Year, before returning to Paris, where she will continue to stay at the same apartment.

"I already live in one of the safest districts in Paris, in an apartment with a concierge. There's no point in moving. But I fortified the place, I got better doors, set it up with more locks, and got a security system with an alarm set up. The rest is up to fate."

Looking forward to 2023, Au – who will be welcoming her zodiac year of the rabbit – is in no hurry to find a job or leave Paris.

"It's very comfortable for me to still stay in Paris. You can't just be unemployed in Singapore – it's very frowned upon. But you're allowed to be a little bit irresponsible in Paris," she says.

And romance?

She laughs and says: "I think I'm over the hill. The only love of my life right now is Rudon. We shared the worst day of 2022 together and perhaps that's why I feel so particularly bonded to him."

This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.

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