Snatch thief sentenced to 14 months' jail

SINGAPORE - An unemployed man committed shoplifting offences even though he was under a two-year mandatory treatment order for dishonest misappropriation of property and providing false information.

Yesterday, David Low Fuh Shim, 48, was jailed 14 months after he admitted to five out of 12 charges. He had been charged with snatch theft, theft in a dwelling and voluntarily causing hurt, among other charges. The amount of property involved was $3,316, of which $1,754 has been recovered.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Rachel Ng told the court that the series of snatch theft offences committed by Low took place between October last year and February this year.

He committed four offences when he was still under a mandatory treatment order, whereby the court orders medical treatment of up to two years in lieu of jail for offenders who suffer from a psychiatric condition.

Ms Ng said the offences were pre-meditated. Low targeted people who were distracted or whom he thought were easy targets.

On Jan 30 this year, Low was cycling around Bukit Panjang when he saw domestic worker Supinah, 28, holding a mobile phone at the void deck of Block 151, Petir Road.

At the lift lobby of the block, Low grabbed the Indonesian maid's phone. She screamed and chased after him. She managed to grab his jacket and stop him from riding off. During a struggle, he kicked her in the abdomen but she still clung onto the bicycle. As a result, he lost control and fell, and let go of the phone. About three weeks later, he succeeded in snatching Indonesian Wulan Novianti's $1,000 phone after using his bicycle to hit her leg.

On Feb 25, he grabbed cashier Chen Man Miao's handbag, with items totalling $358, while she was having her meal in a food court at Block 132, Jurong Gateway Road. The 32-year-old gave chase and shouted "robbery". Low was later detained nearby with the help of two passers-by. On Oct 6 last year, he stole items worth $112 from the FairPrice supermarket at Block 510, Bishan Street 13.

Low said he was under medication for his psychiatric condition and had financial difficulties - he had a mortgage loan of $30,000 and had been unable to pay his town council bills for six months.

This article was published on May 6 in The Straits Times.

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