Serial thief caught stealing from temple after couple stage stake-out, claims to be ill and jobless

The New Paper
Mar 13, 2023

After being tipped off by their neighbours about a man stealing from a temple's donation box, a couple in charge of the temple in Bencoolen Street laid a trap to catch the culprit red-handed.

According to Shin Min Daily News, the couple, surnamed Liu, installed a close-circuit television and reduced gaps in the offering boxes through which money was slotted, after being warned by neighbours about the man.

Despite the reinforcements, money continued to be stolen from the boxes.

But when Mrs Liu checked the CCTV footage on Friday (March 10), she said she saw a man in his 60s at around 6.30am looting money from the boxes.

At 6am the next day, the couple sat outside the temple pretending to be passers-by, hoping to catch the culprit.

They eventually spotted a suspicious-looking man approaching the offering boxes and looking around him.

Mr Liu said he saw the man using a long-ruler with double-sided tape to remove the money from the boxes.

He approached the man from behind and grabbed onto him while Mrs Liu called the police.

The man, it seems, did not put up a struggle. He claimed to have stolen because he was jobless and ill, and tried to convince the couple against reporting him to the police due to his circumstances.

He also admitted to have stolen from the temple since Sept 2021. 

The man, who claimed to have a wife and two children in Indonesia, was also said to have returned the couple $500 after being accompanied by the police to withdraw the money from an ATM.

Mrs Liu said the temple staff usually checked the offering boxes at two- to three-month intervals.

She added that though she noticed the temple collected half the usual earnings during the Covid-19 period – when the man said he began stealing – she assumed that people were donating less because they were mostly at home or had lost their jobs.

According to Shin Min, police are currently investigating the matter, and a 66-year-old man is assisting with investigations.


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Posted by Shin Min Daily News 新明日报 on Sunday, 12 March 2023

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