Man used wire hanger to steal from mosque's donation box
Serial thief jailed for stealing more than $1,900 from Bukit Panjang mosque
Using a wire hanger and some adhesive tape, he fished for money from a mosque's donation box.
He would spend hours doing so - after breaking into the mosque at night.
After 12 occasions over three weeks, serial thief Harmudin Bahar and his accomplice made off with $1,945.
On Monday (Nov 7), Harmudin, 54, who is stateless, was jailed 4½ years and eight weeks on four charges of housebreaking by night to steal.
This is not his first housebreaking conviction, having been previously jailed in 1987 and 2011.
Court papers said he and his accomplice, Azhar Musa, 48, a Singaporean whose case is being dealt with separately, targeted the Masjid Al-Iman Mosque in Bukit Panjang.
Between March 17 and April 6 this year, they would go to the mosque between 1am and 3am.
Harmudin would enter the premises by unlatching the rear gate while Azhar would stand guard outside and alert his partner if he saw anyone entering the mosque.
Once inside, Harmudin headed for the donation box placed outside the main prayer hall.
The box was meant for worshippers to donate money that would be used to pay for the mosque's operations and maintenance.
Harmudin would then use a wire hanger and some adhesive tape over several hours to retrieve the cash from inside the donation box.
He stole about $160 each time.
TNP PHOTO: AHMAD FARUQ BIN ROZALI
Once done, he and Azhar would leave the mosque and split the proceeds. Azhar received between $40 and $65 each time, court papers said.
In the early hours of April 1, Harmudin also sneaked into the mosque's office by climbing through a window.
There, he forced open a drawer and stole $200 as well as a petty cash box containing 30 booklets of stamps worth $45.
Later that day, a mosque facility coordinator made a police report about the missing items from the mosque.
Harmudin was arrested the following week.
None of the stolen cash or items was recovered.
Yesterday, the court heard that Harmudin was jailed 20 months for housebreaking and theft in 1987, and nine months for lurking and housebreaking by night in 2011.
Defence counsel Jogesh Kantilal Doshi said in mitigation his client had not stolen out of greed but need.
He said Harmudin committed the crimes to give his children pocket money, and he did not use any violence.
But the prosecution said that was no licence for Harmudin to victimise others.
Harmudin was originally sentenced to four strokes of the cane, but as he is above 50 years old and cannot be caned, he was given an additional eight weeks.
The punishment for housebreaking by night to steal is between two and 14 years' jail. Repeat offenders are also liable for caning.
Two of Harmudin's prison terms are to run consecutively.
Eight other charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.