Five Vietnamese tourists jailed in Singapore for $17,000 crime spree

By Channel News Asia   March 25, 2016 | 12:29 am PT
The group raided stores at a Singapore shopping mall armed with specially lined bags to foil security alarms.

Four members of the group were jailed for 28 month for stealing over S$17,000 worth of clothes from H&M and Zara stores in the ION Orchard mall in less than 48 hours. A fifth man, who was the mastermind behind the operation, was jailed for 31 months.

They arrived in Singapore via Malaysia on January 27 this year, and began their stealing spree the next day.

Mastermind Dinh Ngoc Luan, 27, had intended to sell the stolen clothing in Vietnam, and gave the rest of the gang, aged between 25 and 28, instructions on which items they should steal.

In the shopping mall, Hoang Ding Cong would stand in a pre-arranged spot with a piece of luggage, while Nguyen Quoc Hung, Nguyen Thi Luong and Dang Bich Thao would enter a store together with Dinh, armed with brown paper bags to hide the stolen clothing.

The paper bags were later found to have been lined with other material, which is believed to be the reason why security alarm systems failed to detect the unpaid-for items.

After each haul, the thieves would transfer the stolen clothing from the paper bags into the waiting luggage, before targeting another store.

Three of them were caught red-handed by police officers patrolling the shopping mall, and were subsequently arrested. The remaining two fled, but were caught while attempting to leave Singapore via the Woodlands Checkpoint.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sivabalan Thanabal said the group, having come to Singapore “specifically with the intent to commit shoplifting”, had clearly abused the hospitality of the country. He urged the court to impose jail terms sufficient to “deter like-minded groups from targeting Singapore”.

The DPP also said the operation was well-planned, noting that the group managed to steal items of clothing worth S$17,380 in less than 48 hours after arriving in Singapore.

The five could have been jailed for up to seven years.

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