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Man gets 14 months' jail for role in stealing over S$100,000 in coins from HDB car park water dispensing machines

SINGAPORE — It was a simple plan to steal some liquid assets: Coins used as payment at water dispensing machines in Housing and Development Board (HDB) car parks. Customers use the water to wash their cars.

An Avalanche Mechtronics coin-operated water dispenser located at a multi-storey carpark in Yishun, photographed on Jan 19, 2023.

An Avalanche Mechtronics coin-operated water dispenser located at a multi-storey carpark in Yishun, photographed on Jan 19, 2023.

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SINGAPORE — It was a simple plan to steal some liquid assets: Coins used as payment at water dispensing machines in Housing and Development Board (HDB) car parks. Customers use the water to wash their cars.

On learning that all one needed was a screwdriver to unlock the machines, Muhammad Nabil Ahmad Sabtu and Abdul Razak Rashid agreed to join a third individual in a conspiracy to steal coins from such machines across the island, thinking it would be a quick way to earn money.

In all, the trio were able to make off with S$100,053.11 worth of coins before the law caught up with them.

On Thursday (Jan 19), Nabil was sentenced to 14 months’ jail after he pleaded guilty to a single charge of theft.

District Judge Eddy Tham granted a request by the 26-year-old to begin his sentence from Feb 16 so that he can settle his personal affairs.

Abdul Razak, who was also present in court, had his hearing adjourned to Feb 15 to give the 27-year-old time to seek legal aid. He faces four theft-related charges.

The case for the supposed mastermind of the theft, Muhammad Rasyid Abidin, is at the pre-trial conference stage. The 27-year-old, who has been in remand since Aug 13 last year, stands accused of nine theft related charges.

Nabil and Abdul Razak remain out on bail of S$10,000 and S$15,000 respectively.

Abdul Razak Rashid (left) and Muhammad Nabil Ahmad Sabtuil (right) leaving the State Courts on Jan 19, 2023.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Lee Da Zhuan said that the trio had allegedly plotted to steal coins from the water-dispensing machines belonging to Avalanche Mechtronics sometime around May 2021.

The machines are generally located within the multi-storey car parks at public housing estates. A customer pays S$1 for three minutes of water dispensation.

DPP Lee said that Rasyid had allegedly informed Abdul Razak and Nabil that a screwdriver was able to unlock the water-dispensing machines and that a screwdriver with a magnet attached would be able to retrieve the coins.

Enticed by the plan and thinking that it was a way to earn quick money, Nabil and Abdul Razak allegedly agreed to Rasyid’s proposal to carry out the theft once they had researched the locations of the water dispensers.

DPP Lee also said that during the alleged offences, carried out between May and December in 2021, one of the trio would always keep a lookout, while the other two carried out the theft.

After committing multiple acts of theft, DPP Lee said that Abdul Razak and Rasyid would allegedly go to the nearest POSB bank and deposit the coins into either of their bank accounts.

They then allegedly made cash withdrawals and shared the loot among the three of them.

DPP Lee said that Nabil voluntarily stopped engaging in these acts of theft from January 2022 onwards.

A police report was filed by the director of Avalanche Mechtronics, Mr Tan Kok Keong, on Aug 8 last year after he discovered that one of the machines had been broken into and its coins missing.

Anyone found guilty of committing theft can be jailed for up to seven years, and fined.

Related topics

theft court crime

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