Would-be bank robber had change of heart at last minute
He had planned the October 2013 bank heist with much precision.
But Ng Shi Qiang aborted the scheme at the last minute, the court learnt yesterday.
Ng, 31, a senior security executive at Far East Organization, was later caught and found guilty of possessing an air pistol which he had intended to use in the robbery.
He was yesterday sentenced to five years and nine months' jail and six strokes of the cane.
The court heard that Ng had joined the army when he was 16 in 2000 and served as a regular for six years, finishing as a second sergeant.
He then worked as a salesman and married in 2006 before becoming an auxiliary police officer with Cisco. Ng hatched the bank robbery plan in late September 2013 as he was burdened with debts.
He accumulated credit card debts of about $50,000, had unpaid fines of up to $1,000 and owed his mother-in-law $100,000.
Driven by desperation, he laid out his plan for the Oct 14 bank heist of a Post Office Savings Bank (POSB) in Yishun Central 1.
Ng read online case studies of previous bank robberies, how bank alarms work and how to disarm them.
He was particularly interested in secluded banks on the island as he trawled Google maps.
Ng had previously conducted reconnaissance on three banks - two OCBC banks, one in Bedok North and another in Sixth Avenue, and one POSB branch in Toa Payoh Lorong 1 - before ruling them out as possible targets because there were too many passers-by and security elements.
He had used a borrowed car - a maroon Hyundai Avante - on the scouting missions.
Ng, however, found the POSB branch at Block 926 in Yishun to be a possible target.
He noted that there was only one closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera at the rear of the bank, which was used to monitor illegal parking.
Ng, who had conducted two recces of the branch, was careful to identify other CCTV cameras on the route to the bank.
At nearby Block 932, he found a convenient spot - a dry riser - to stash two bags containing the gear he needed.
On the morning of the planned robbery, Ng walked up to the dry riser on the 7th floor of the block and changed out of his working attire into another set of clothes - jeans and a white T-shirt.
He had also brought a "Beretta" air pistol, which was a birthday gift from his 27-year-old brother, a regular in the Singapore Navy.
The brother had given Ng the present in May 2013 after returning from overseas training.
On Oct 14, 2013, Ng laid in ambush at about 7am near the POSB branch, planning to jump the bank staff as they opened for business.
He was then carrying a black bag containing the air pistol and was careful to stand in the blind spot of a CCTV camera above him.
But when he saw two female staff squatting to open the bank door, he claimed "he could not bring himself to hurt the two ladies", court documents revealed.
District Judge Low Wee Ping also noted that Ng had told a psychiatrist that he could not bear to shoot anyone.
Ng, who had no psychiatric history, then returned to Block 932, where he changed into his working clothes and left his gear in the dry riser. He later drove to work.
The game was over for him when a resident called the police on the night of Oct 15, 2013, after finding his bags in the dry riser.
Police recovered the bags and found the air pistol, 22 pellets, 10 cable ties, gloves, a mask, a pair of jeans and black shoes and a white T-shirt.
On Oct 16, Ng went to retrieve his gear, only to discover that they were gone.
Fearful of being arrested, he disposed the pistol accessories he had kept at home.
He was eventually arrested the next day at his home.
While court documents did not reveal how the police had traced him to his flat in Sembawang, they stated that DNA swabs taken from the items seized at the dry riser matched his DNA profile.
For unlawful possession of a firearm or ammunition, Ng could have been jailed between five and 10 years and caned no fewer than six strokes.