They waited for the senior citizen to be alone at the poorly-lit coffee shop in Geylang.
Then at about 4.30am on March 6, the Vietnamese trio struck.
Nguyen Do Tam, 31, restrained the 66-year-old man and tried to cover his mouth while his compatriots searched the victim for his wallet. The culprits escaped after stealing the victim's wallet.
Yesterday, Nguyen, an overstayer, was given three years and three months' jail and 12 strokes of the cane. He was also fined $500 for the robbery and for overstaying in Singapore.
Investigations revealed that the elderly man had withdrawn $1,000 from a nearby POSB ATM earlier. One of the robbers had seen the thick wad of cash in the man's wallet.
While court papers did not describe how or when the three men were arrested, it was apparent that the victim had given a good description of the robbers to police.
The victim said: "Three Vietnamese young men robbed my wallet... They fled towards Geylang area. All (were) wearing short-sleeved shirt and long pants. One is (sic) wearing light blue shirt. All have GI-style hair, looks (sic) decent."
Nguyen's two accomplices were handed similar penalties previously.
This article was published on May 3 in The New Paper.Get The New Paper for more stories.