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How We Nabbed a Suspected Serial Shoplifter

Excellent teamwork and quick thinking on the part of these SPF officers proved key to getting the job done.
(From left to right) SSSGT (NS) Elisha Lim, SGT(1) (NS) Santosh S/O Gunalan and SGT(2) (NS) Zestin Soh, were making their rounds at a supermarket in Clementi when they saw a wanted serial shoplifter.

Excellent teamwork and quick thinking on the part of these SPF officers proved key to getting the job done.

TEXT & PHOTOS: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

When shopping at the supermarket or mall, we tend to go about our activities without paying much heed to those around us. In fact, not many are aware of the crimes that take place in our midst. According to figures released by the Singapore Police Force (SPF), shop theft cases in Singapore rose by about 22 per cent, from 2,652 cases in 2021 to 3,244 cases in 2022.

To deter theft and apprehend shoplifters, Police National Servicemen (PNSmen) from Clementi Police Division regularly conduct patrols in crime-prone retail areas. PNSmen SSSGT (NS) Elisha Lim, SGT(2) (NS) Zestin Soh, and SGT(1) (NS) Santosh S/O Gunalan were recently deployed on one such patrol as part of their In-Camp Training.

While making their rounds at a supermarket in Clementi, the trio crossed paths with an individual who was wanted by the police for his suspected involvement in a series of shoplifting cases. The suspect had allegedly stolen hair-care products from a supermarket on three occasions between the end of May and early June. The supermarket filed a police report on 10th of June 2023. After an investigation, the suspect’s identity was established.

The officers who were on patrol immediately recognised the suspect as they had been briefed earlier by Community Policing Unit officers from the Clementi Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) to be on the lookout for someone matching his description. They had identified him by his distinctive hair colour, tattoo and facial features.

Rather than rush to make an arrest, the officers maintained their composure and verified the suspect’s identity with the help of Ground Response Force (GRF) officers from Clementi NPC. They continued to monitor him from a distance while pretending to distribute flyers, to avoid alarming him.

“It pays to be alert and watch our surroundings when on patrol,” noted SSSGT (NS) Lim.

Thanks to the seamless planning and coordination between the GRF officers and the PNSmen team, the officers were able to stall the suspect and lead him to a quiet area away from the public eye. The suspect was subsequently interviewed for his suspected involvement in the earlier shop theft cases. This is yet another fine example of how SPF officers effectively fight crime through strong teamwork, dedication and courage.

“I am thankful for the training that keeps us operationally ready and prepared to handle various situations. It reaffirmed my belief that by following a well-prepared shift work plan and patrolling conscientiously, it is possible to make a meaningful difference,” said SGT(2) (NS) Soh.

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