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Policeman jailed 3 months for pocketing S$300 from tourist’s lost-and-found handbag

SINGAPORE — When someone handed in a tourist’s handbag to Whampoa Neighbourhood Police Post (NPP), police officer Pat Chung Keong seized the chance to take six S$50 bills from a wallet in the bag.

Policeman jailed 3 months for pocketing S$300 from tourist’s lost-and-found handbag

The court heard that an Indonesian tourist's handbag containing a passport and S$300 in cash was handed to Whampoa Neighbourhood Police Post after it was found by a member of the public.

  • A passerby took the handbag to Pat Chung Leong’s police post but he said he would lodge a report on her behalf
  • He returned the cash only 24 days later when confronted with evidence of his crime
  • His lawyer said he had done it out of impulse and his family relied on him for financial support

 

SINGAPORE — When someone handed in a tourist’s handbag to Whampoa Neighbourhood Police Post (NPP), police officer Pat Chung Keong seized the chance to take six S$50 bills from a wallet in the bag.

Chung, now aged 26, was sentenced to three months’ jail on Tuesday (Sept 1), after pleading guilty to the charge of criminal breach of trust as a public servant.

He held the rank of Sergeant 2 at the time of the offence.

The victim, an 18-year-old Indonesian, had arrived in Singapore on Aug 5 last year. She made a report at Toa Payoh Neighbourhood Police Centre later that evening, saying she had lost her handbag containing her Indonesian passport and S$300 in cash.

A 46-year-old woman then found the handbag lying at a bus stop in front of Novena Church. She then took it to Whampoa NPP to make a police report.

Chung was manning the counter that evening and she told him that she had found a handbag containing a significant amount of cash.

She also asked him to document the items, in view of their number and importance. But he told her there was no need for that because he would file a police report on her behalf.

She handed over the handbag and left.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage revealed that Chung then took the cash from the tourist’s wallet, separated the Indonesian rupiah from the Singapore currency, and placed both sets side by side on the counter.

He then held the Singapore bills in his right palm, leaned forward to conceal the notes from the CCTV cameras, and put them in his right trouser pocket.

He took the money home and kept it in his wardrobe, and did not make a record of the cash in the found property report.

The next day, the victim called the Found and Unclaimed Property Office run by the police and learned that her handbag was at Kampong Java Neighbourhood Police Centre.

When she collected it, she realised that the S$300 was missing.

Chung returned the bills more than three weeks later on Aug 29 last year after he was confronted with evidence of his crime.

FAMILY DEPENDED ON HIM FOR SUPPORT

Deputy Public Prosecutor Seah Koh sought at least four-and-a-half months’ jail, noting that Chung had been charged with the most serious form of criminal breach of trust.

His lawyer, Ms Kate Loo from Ling Law Corporation, asked for five weeks’ jail instead.

She told the court that Chung’s family was not well-to-do and relied on his salary. His mother had suffered a stroke and he was one of her primary caregivers.

He had worked as a police officer for two years without disciplinary issues and was suspended from service after admitting to taking the money. His monthly salary of S$2,500 was reduced to S$1,000, which was a big blow to him, the lawyer added.

He could not take on other jobs because it would be considered moonlighting.

Ms Loo also argued that because he was charged only in June this year, there was a delay in prosecution and his sentence should be reduced because of that.

She added that he had shown remorse and returned the exact same bills he had pocketed. He had committed the offence out of impulse, she said.

For criminal breach of trust as a public servant, Chung could have been jailed up to 20 years and fined.

A Singapore Police Force spokesperson said in response to queries from TODAY that following Chung's conviction the SPF had commenced disciplinary proceedings against him.

"The SPF take the security of found property placed in police custody very seriously. There are measures in place to ensure safe and proper handling of all found property. This was an isolated case and does not represent the professional and disciplined conduct of our SPF officers.”

Related topics

court crime police theft tourist

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