Dutchman doubles up as crime buster in Singapore

SINGAPORE - When he is not donning the blue uniform, Sergeant Stijn Welkers is a Client Director at the Singapore Management University Executive Development, working with regional clients across industries in enrolment programmes.

But to Toa Payoh residents, Sergeant Welkers is a familiar and reassuring sight in the neighbourhood.

The 45-year-old has been serving in the Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) since 2008, and earned his stripes by patrolling the ground during his stint at Toa Payoh Neighbourhood Police Centre.

A Facebook post about Sergeant Welkers by the Singapore Police Force has amassed over 1,000 likes and positive comments ever since it was posted on Monday (April 4), with many neitzens lauding him for his service.

"Thank you Welkers for your services (sic) and making Singapore a safer place," commented Loh Irwan Jason on the Facebook post.

VSC SPECIAL – ONE OF US #SPFPRIDE SGT(V) Stijn Welkers joined the Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) in 2008. “I...

Posted by Singapore Police Force on Sunday, April 3, 2016

With his dark blond hair, Sergeant Welkers, who uprooted from the Netherlands in 2002 to call Singapore home, has been mistaken for an actor and a tourist.

In a 2013 interview with Home Team News, the permanent resident recounted how a young boy mistook him for a famous actor, and doubted that he was carrying a real firearm.

"I convinced him I was a normal officer and he left asking his dad whether he could become a police officer too because he thought police officers were 'nice people'," he told Home Team News.

Criminals have also lowered their guard in his presence as they think he is a tourist, giving him access to information other police officers may have difficulty getting their hands on.

"I can play a variety of roles and uncover a range of illegal activities where Singaporean police officers may have difficulty even gaining entry to, while for me doors open without questions," he added.

Before his current attachment to the Criminal Investigation Department, the Dutchman used to spend 40 to 50 hours a month patrolling in the Toa Payoh neighbourhood.

While residents were initially unaccustomed with his presence, they eventually became used to seeing him in the neighbourhood.

"I would approach them and say hello. However, the reaction by the public had changed over time as people got used to seeing me around in the neighborhood," the 45-year-old said.

Opportunities for first-generation permanent residents to serve the nation in uniformed organisations have increased in recent years.

"I reached a point in my life where I wanted to contribute to society and do something meaningful so I decided to join the VSC," Sergeant Welkers said.

The VSC has been around since 1946, while the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) started training its pioneer batch of military volunteers in 2015. According to a Straits Times report in 2015, there are currently also 130 volunteer officers with the Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit (CDAU).