Uber driver jailed for stealing laptop and more than $18,000 from passenger

Nigel Chin
Reporter
The Uber app seen on a mobile phone in London. File photo: Reuters

An Uber driver who stole an iPhone, a Microsoft Surface Pro laptop and more than $18,000 in cash after a customer left her bag in the car was sentenced to four weeks’ jail on Friday (24 November).

Wong Chee Keong, 33, had pleaded guilty to one charge of dishonestly misappropriating property at the State Courts.

He was granted a deferment of two weeks to allow him to settle his affairs, which include returning his private hire vehicle, and will start serving his sentence on 8 December.

The court heard that Wong picked up the victim, a 61-year-old woman, on 25 February this year from Changi Airport at about 6.30pm. The victim had returned from a work trip to Kuala Lumpur and was headed home to Hougang.

When she alighted from the car at around 7.42pm, she took only her luggage from the car boot and left her sling bag in the car.

Another passenger later informed Wong that there was a bag on the floor at the rear passenger seat. Wong took the bag home and looked through the contents.

He then decided to keep all the money – S$9,500, RM30,000 (about S$9,800), as well as some loose change in Chinese yuan – and the laptop, which he reformatted. He threw away the iPhone for fear of being tracked down via the “Find my iPhone” application, as well as the bag and other contents inside.

The victim realised she had forgotten her bag at about 11am the next day. She then contacted Wong, who lied that there had been nothing in his vehicle, and offered to check with the other passengers he picked up.

A police report was made later that day by the victim, who only told Wong about it after exchanging several phone calls with him throughout the day.

Wong then offered to provide information to the police if necessary, and later claimed that he found the cash. He drove to the victim’s home to return the monies, but when asked about the items, he said he’d only found the cash and not the rest of the items.

About one week later, on 6 March, Wong came clean during an interview with the police. He handed over the laptop to the police so it could be returned to the victim, and made restitution of $1,300 on 10 July in relation to the other items that were not returned.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Zhongshan, who pushed for a five-week jail term, argued that while Wong had made substantial restitution, the important information and data that were lost from the iPhone and laptop were unrecoverable.

DPP Tan said that while Wong did offer to pay for the service to recover the data that had been wiped from the laptop, it might be impossible to recover all the data fully. Additionally, if Wong were to have misplaced the computer, sensitive information pertaining to the victim’s job might have been leaked.

Before meting out her sentence, District Judge Jasvender Kaur said that society would expect drivers to be honest and keep their passengers safe, although she would take into account that Wong made efforts to cover the victim’s losses.

For dishonestly misappropriating property, Wong could have been jailed for up to two years and fined.