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Man, 62, who surrendered after 14 years as fugitive, jailed for getaway driver role in office break-ins 2 decades ago

SINGAPORE — A man who fled to Malaysia for 14 years, to evade arrest for his role as a getaway driver in a series of office break-ins and robberies dating back to 2002, has been jailed after he surrendered himself.

Man, 62, who surrendered after 14 years as fugitive, jailed for getaway driver role in office break-ins 2 decades ago
The court heard that Haron Ismail fled to Malaysia soon after his crimes in 2003 and remained there until he returned to Singapore in 2017 and surrendered to police.
  • Haron Ismail was wanted for his role in at least three office break-ins where he served as the getaway driver
  • His accomplices were arrested and jailed in 2003, but he was able to escape to Malaysia
  • He returned to Singapore in 2017 to surrender himself

SINGAPORE — A man who fled to Malaysia for 14 years, to evade arrest for his role as a getaway driver in a series of office break-ins and robberies dating back to 2002, has been jailed after he surrendered himself.

On Friday (Jan 14), Haron Ismail, 62, was jailed for four years and nine months after he pleaded guilty to three housebreaking-related charges, one of which was by night.

Three other similar charges were taken into consideration for the Singaporean’s sentencing.

Court documents showed that the total value of goods stolen in Haron’s three proceeded charges was about S$32,620.

Haron is the last of three individuals involved in three office break-ins to be jailed. The break-ins occurred between 2002 and 2003 when he was aged about 42.

His partners in crime, whose ages were not given, were both convicted and sentenced in 2003.

Rusli Awang was jailed for six years, while Abdul Karim Mohamed was given 12 years’ preventive detention as well as the maximum 24 strokes of the cane.

Preventive detention is a severe punishment imposed only when the court is satisfied that a recalcitrant offender should be locked away to protect the public.

Court documents by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Seah Ee Wei showed that the trio's modus operandi was generally the same: They would target offices that had no one in them.

The three locations targeted were an unnamed office at the Great World City mall, the Reveal Hair Spa and Saloon along Orchard Road and another unnamed office at the Adelphi Building along Coleman Street.

In each instance, Abdul Karim would gain access into the office by using a chisel to pry the door open before he starts searching for valuables to be shared among themselves.

The highest value stolen at one location was S$20,000 in cash and the lowest was S$127.25.

While Abdul Karim searched the offices, Rusli would position himself near the guard post to act as a lookout for the police or security guards, and Haron would wait near the getaway vehicle to drive them away.

It was not stated how Rusli and Abdul Karim were arrested, but DPP Seah said that when they were, Haron managed to escape to Malaysia sometime around May 2003.

Haron returned to Singapore to surrender himself at the Woodlands Checkpoint only on July 3, 2017.

He was later arrested and released on police bail the next day.

On Friday, Haron, who was not represented by a lawyer, told the court that he was already 62 years old with heart problems and has a history of hypertension and diabetes.

When he surrendered, he said that he was offered a personal bail by an investigation officer from the Tanglin Police Station on the condition that he reports to the officer monthly.

“I’ve been reporting for four-and-a-half years today. During this time, I have upgraded myself by taking security and taxi licence. Your Honour, I beg for leniency.”

District Judge Ng Peng Hong said in response that Haron’s accomplices had already been sentenced and had been given “quite substantial terms of imprisonment”.

Haron did not respond when the judge read out the sentence, but was seen shaking his head slightly.

The punishment for committing housebreaking with the intention to steal is a jail term of up to 10 years. If the same offence is committed at night, the jail term is up to 14 years.

Related topics

court crime housebreaking fugitive stealing Malaysia

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