NSF firefighter sergeant who stole from smoke-filled house jailed

Amir Hussain
Senior Reporter
Navindran Ravichandran was an SCDF firefighter sergeant who responded to a call for help at a smoke-filled home when he stole a wallet there. (Photo: Getty Images)

A full-time national serviceman who was the section commander of a team of firemen that responded to a call for help at a smoke-filled home in November 2016 pocketed a wallet that he saw there, a court heard.

Two years later, former firefighter sergeant Navindran Ravichandran turned to setting fire to doors of homes as a loanshark runner.

At the State Courts on Thursday (15 November), Navindran, now 22, was jailed for 21 months and two weeks with six strokes of the cane and also fined $6,500. If he does not pay the fine, he will have to serve another three weeks in jail.

Navindran, a Singapore permanent resident from Malaysia, pleaded guilty to five charges – one count each of theft, causing hurt, and pretending to be a policeman; and two counts of setting fire to the main doors of homes on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender.

The court heard that on 24 November 2016, at about 7.20pm, the police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force got a call for help from the owner of a house in Oei Tiong Ham Park, near Holland Village. The owner reported about a lot of smoke coming out from the aircon vent.

Navindran, a sergeant attached to Clementi Fire Station, was the section commander of a team of firemen dispatched to the scene. While investigating the cause of the smoke in the home, Navindran saw a black wallet valued at $500 near the bathroom sink. He pocketed the wallet, which contained $250 in cash and several bank cards.

A few months later, on 6 March last year, Navindran was stopped for a security spot check at Kent Ridge MRT. Four credit cards which he had stolen were found on him and he admitted to stealing them from the house.

The card owner had cancelled the cards, and Navindran did not make any transactions on them, Deputy Public Prosector Ho Lian-Yi told the court.

Pretended to be cop, set fire to homes

A month before this, on 6 February last year, Navindran pretended to be a policeman and assaulted a construction worker from India.

At about 2am that day, Navindran, who was drunk, approached the 28-year-old victim who was sitting alone outside a restaurant in Peace Centre and requested for the latter’s identification document. He claimed to be an undercover cop but he was working as a sales promoter at the time.

The victim refused to do so unless Navindran showed him a police identification card. Navindran then kicked the victim’s shin four times.

The victim ran into a nearby convenience store and asked someone to call the police. But Navindran followed him there. He took out a blank white card from his pocket and told the victim he was an undercover policeman, and insisted for the victim’s identity card.

Navindran then walked out the store and policemen arrived shortly after. His actions were caught on CCTV cameras.

Separately in June this year, Navindran saw an advertisement for quick cash on Carousell and was connected with an unlicensed moneylender. Navindran asked for a $300 loan, but was instead offered $1,000 for each flat that he harassed.

Navindran got hold of a surgical mask, lighter fluid, cloth and a lighter, and went to three homes in Hougang and Punggol as instructed. He set fire to the doors of the homes and placed debtor’s notes there.

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