Man who stole over $45,000 from licensed moneylender he borrowed from jailed

·Senior Reporter
Wong Kok Hing used the stolen money to pay off his gamblings debts. (PHOTO: Getty Creative)
Wong Kok Hing used the stolen money to pay off his gamblings debts. (PHOTO: Getty Creative)

SINGAPORE — Nearly two weeks after a man took a loan from a licensed moneylender, he broke into its office at Parklane Shopping Mall to steal more than $45,000 in cash.

Wong Kok Hing then used the stolen money to pay off his gamblings debts.

The 42-year-old operations supervisor was sentenced to two years and four months’ jail on Wednesday (3 July). He had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of committing housebreaking by night to commit theft.

Caught on camera

CCTV footage showed Wong breaking into Magnus Credit on the night of 15 October last year by forcefully pulling aside a glass door.

Clad in black clothes, a cap, face mask and gloves, he then used a screwdriver to pry open several drawers containing the money in the office. He also stole the company’s mobile phone, which was worth $88.

The next day, two staff members from Magnus Credit found the damaged drawers upon arriving at the office. One drawer was missing $43,882 in cash, which was meant to be loans for customers. Another drawer was missing $2,500, also in cash.

Magnus Credit’s main entrance, which was secured by a digital number lock, was left untouched but its side entrance – the glass door through which Wong entered – was found left ajar with its lock opened.

Employees of Magnus Credit later identified Wong from the CCTV footage as he had taken loans from their company on 4 October.

Wong was arrested in Yishun on 25 October and $4,000 seized from his home.

Accused ‘wanted to try his luck’

He claimed to have broken into the moneylender as he was heavily in debt due to gambling. He also faced difficulty repaying loans taken from both licensed and unlicensed moneylenders.

As he had previously borrowed money from Magnus Credit, he “knew that the staff placed cash in the drawers, and wanted to try his luck”, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Stacey Fernandez.

He later told investigators that he disposed of the mobile phone. His bank accounts, which were frozen on 30 October last year, only had $4,494.08 left.

Wong has since made full restitution of the sum he stole.

His lawyer, John Koh from Populus Law, said that his client suffered from Tourette syndrome and a gambling disorder. Tourette’s is a neurological disorder that is characterised by involuntary movements and vocalisations.

Those with the condition have been found to have higher rates of pathological gambling as compared with the general population, said Koh, citing a psychiatrist’s report. The same report stated that Wong’s risk of reoffending was low as he was motivated to seek treatment and had good insight into his condition.

Koh added that Wong was also providing for his wife and young child.

The defence lawyer asked for the mandatory minimum sentence of two years’ jail for his client, while the prosecution sought 30 months’ jail.

For housebreaking by night to commit theft, Wong could have been jailed between two and 14 years.

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