Four Vietnamese nationals appeared in court on Tuesday accused of stealing SG$26,000 (US$19,000) worth of women’s clothes – the biggest haul by a shoplifting syndicate in Singapore to date.
The two men and two women allegedly stole almost 900 items – more than half of which were bras – and packed their loot inside tin foil-lined paper bags to avoid detection from anti-theft sensors.
Duong Tuan Dat, 27, and Van Tu Nguyen, 30, and their female alleged accomplices Tran Thi Phuong Thao, 29, and Nguyen Thi Thu Huong, 31, were each charged with one count of shoplifting.
According to court documents, they went to a Uniqlo outlet in Downtown East at around 1.30pm on Saturday and allegedly stole 50 items of winter wear worth almost SG$5,000 ($3,600).
The group were arrested after the manager of a shop in Pasir Ris Close alerted police, who studied closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage and suspected that it was more than a simple case of shop theft when they noticed the group were carrying suitcases.
Officers from Bedok Police Division arrested the four in Chin Swee Road on Sunday.
Police said there were 529 bras among the 868 items stolen. Officers also seized several suitcases, pairs of pliers and hangers.
The commander of Bedok Police Division, Assistant Commissioner Tan Tin Wee, said that the case “illustrates the close partnership between the police and retailers in fighting crime”.
He added: “The police will not tolerate foreign crime syndicates looking to operate here. Those found doing so will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
From January to June this year, there were 1,718 cases of shop theft reported. The crime has been on a downward trend in recent years. Last year, there were 3,800 cases of shop theft, a decrease from 3,919 cases in 2016 and 3,940 in 2015.
Police have urged retailers to remain vigilant against shoplifters and adopt measures, including CCTV cameras.
No bail was offered to the four who are now remanded at Bedok Police Division. They will be back in court on September 25.
Offenders convicted of shoplifting can be jailed for up to seven years and fined.