Western Union armed robbery suspect arrested

Western Union armed robbery suspect arrested

Police released this photo of the suspect who robbed a Western Union branch on Jul 31, 2017. (Photo: SPF)

SINGAPORE: A 56-year-old Singaporean man suspected to have robbed a Western Union branch in Ubi at knifepoint has been arrested, the Singapore Police Force announced on Friday (Aug 4). 

The police said despite an initial lack of leads, officers were able to establish the suspect's identity, and arrested him on Thursday at 10.35pm along Pasir Ris Drive 6.

The robbery took place at the Western Union branch at Block 301 Ubi Avenue 1 on Tuesday morning.

The Western Union branch at Ubi Avenue 1 was cordoned off after a robbery. (Photo: Monica Kotwani)

According to the police, the suspect entered the remittance outlet wearing a helmet and mask, and armed with a knife. He ordered the staff not to shout and demanded money, then fled with about S$4,000. 

However, in the process of fleeing, he dropped about S$3,000, which was recovered at the back of the Western Union outlet by staff and members of the public.

The suspect eventually fled on a bicycle with S$1,071 in a bag. By the time the police arrested him on Thursday night, the suspect claimed to have spent most of the money, including S$24 on 4D tickets. The police are investigating his claims.

Channel NewsAsia understands that the mask and 4D tickets were found in the suspect's pockets when he was arrested. He was in the same pair of pants he wore during the robbery.

The police said they are trying to recover the helmet and knife used in the robbery, which he allegedly threw away. 

Channel NewsAsia understands that the suspect had left his bicycle in Bedok, and led the police to it after his arrest.

Evidence seized from the man who allegedly robbed a Western Union branch. (Photo: Monica Kotwani)

Four 4D tickets with wagers totalling S$24 were among the evidence seized by the police. (Photo: Monica Kotwani)

LACK OF FORENSIC LEADS, INVESTIGATORS RELIED ON "GOOD OLD DAYS" OF EXTENSIVE GROUND-WORK

Investigators had very little in the form of forensic leads to work on, and the suspect had taken pains to conceal his identity, said Assistant Commissioner of Police Tan Tin Wee, who is the commander of Bedok Police Division. 

In order to track down the suspect, about 130 officers from the Bedok Police Division, Criminal Investigation Department and Police Intelligence Department were involved. They trawled through 1,000 hours of CCTV footage from police cameras, various establishments and even from residents. 

Much of the footage was also obtained from in-car cameras, from the vehicles which the police had identified driving along the same route as the suspect when fled from the scene. 

Supt K Vasanthan (second from right) with AC Tan (second from left) with officers from Bedok Division. Some 130 officers were involved in cracking the Western Union armed robbery case. (Photo: Monica Kotwani)

"If you look at the image (the police) circulated (on Tuesday), he was wearing a jacket and was fully clothed. That made trying to trace him a bit difficult. But apart from polcams (police cameras), we had to go back to the good old days of knocking on doors, doing enquiries and getting as many leads as possible," said Supt K Vasanthan, who led investigations. 

The suspect will be charged on Saturday for armed robbery. A person convicted of armed robbery faces between two and 10 years in jail and at least 12 strokes of the cane; however, because the suspect is above 50, he cannot be caned.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Tan Tin Wee, who is the commander of Bedok police division, said he is proud of his officers who worked hard to establish the identity of the suspect.

"They have worked long and hard over three days to trace the suspect's movements, establish his identity and subsequently bring him to justice," AC Tan said. "The police do not tolerate such brazen acts and we will spare no effort to hunt down these offenders to ensure they face the full brunt of the law."

This was the second armed robbery in Singapore in as many days. On Monday, a man robbed a Shell petrol station at knifepoint in broad daylight and made off with nearly S$1,200. A 48-year-old suspect has since been arrested and charged.

"The message from our solving of these two robbery cases in succession should be clear. If you commit a crime in Singapore, you can run, but you can’t hide," AC Tan said. 

Source: CNA/mz