Singapore

Cleaner jailed for stealing money from partially blind friend

A cleaner's partially blind friend, who is receiving financial assistance, asked for his help in using an automated teller machine (ATM) to check his account.

Goh Thiam Hock, 59, abused his friend's trust and helped himself to the money instead. He was sentenced to a week's jail on Wenesday (July 26) after pleading guilty to theft and an unrelated shoplifting charge.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Amanda Sum said retiree Tan Chwee Sing, 76, is on a social welfare programme and receives money every month for his living expenses.

On Nov 2 last year, he approached Goh and asked for his help to verify if the social welfare agencies had credited $300 into his bank account. The cleaner agreed to help and they went to an ATM at Block 117, Bukit Merah View.

Mr Tan then handed Goh his ATM card and told him his personal identification number (PIN).

Goh inserted the card into the machine, entered the PIN and saw that there was a balance of $300 in his friend's savings account.

DPP Sum said: "At this juncture, the accused decided to steal the $300 in (Mr Tan's) bank account and told (him) that no money had been credited into his bank account yet. The accused then proceeded to make a withdrawal of $300... before returning the ATM card to (Mr Tan)."

The court heard that Goh's actions were captured on closed-circuit television cameras, and he later used the money for his own expenses. The next day, Mr Tan updated his passbook and lodged a police report on Nov 7, after realising there had been an unauthorised withdrawal of $300.

DPP Sum said Goh had since made full restitution.

Besides this case, Goh was also caught stealing $29.97 worth of toiletries at the NTUC FairPrice outlet at Block 166, Bukit Merah Central, at around 1.30pm on Dec 1 last year.

Goh, who was unrepresented, is now out on bail as he had asked to defer his sentence due to recent surgery he had undergone for his shoulder. He has to surrender himself to the court on Aug 28 to begin his jail term.

For stealing from Mr Tan, he could have been jailed for up to three years and fined.

For shoplifting, he could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined.

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