Man with history of housebreaking went into flat to steal money, drank from Coke can

A hand opening a refrigerator door.
A hand opening a refrigerator door. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A man who wanted to steal money to repay his loans broke into a house and drank from a can of Coca Cola taken from a fridge as he was thirsty.

Pang Sin Bee had gained entry into the house as its owner left the combination lock unlocked. But Pang was unable to flee when two residents living in the house emerged from a locked bedroom and saw him, as he had inadvertently locked the main gate upon entering the unit.

Pang, 55, a recalcitrant housebreaker and thief, was sentenced to eight years’ preventive detention on Monday (17 January) – his third such stint. He had pleaded guilty to one count of theft and one count of housebreaking. Another three charges, including possessing housebreaking tools such as a manual hacksaw, two screwdrivers, two pliers and a penknife, were considered for his sentencing.

Pang was sentenced to eight years of preventive detention on 7 June 2002 for housebreaking. Upon his release, Pang reoffended and was sentenced to another seven years of preventive detention on 23 March 2011.

On 25 September last year, Pang was wandering in the morning around an HDB block at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10.

He had borrowed money from two friends and was worried that he would not be able to repay them with his salary. He then decided to target and steal from several flats.

He chanced upon a unit on the second floor, which was secured with a number combination padlock.

Pang attempted to unlock the padlock by pressing its catch latch mechanism at the bottom of the padlock. To his surprise, the padlock unlocked but this was because the resident of the unit had forgotten to reset the padlock and left the buttons depressed.

After the door was unlocked, Pang entered the unit. Feeling thirsty, Pang headed to a fridge, took out three cans of Coca Cola, and drank from a can.

He later tried to open the master bedroom door and a second bedroom door but was unsuccessful on both attempts as they were locked.

At this point, Pang decided to leave the unit but was caught by two residents, who emerged from the master bedroom. The residents confronted Pang, who tried to flee but realised that he had locked the main gate. The police were called and Pang was arrested.

Pang had also committed shop theft after pocketing $77.95 worth of nuts, lip balm and other snacks from NTUC Fairprice at Block 712 Ang Mo Kio without paying on 8 January last year.

The prosecution noted that despite having spent a considerable amount of time in prison previously, the accused had reoffended. "The actions of the his blatant disregard for the law and the public, and that a term of (preventive detention) may once again be necessary to take him out of circulation for the protection of the public."

Preventive detention is usually given to recalcitrant offenders and can last between seven and 20 years without the usual one-third remission for good behaviour for a standard jail sentence.

For housebreaking to commit an offence, Pang could have been jailed up to 10 years and fined. For theft in a dwelling house, he could have been jailed up to seven years and fined.