Yan Dao Cop: I'm bigger in real life

ASP Ryan Koh, Singapore's yan dao cop, opens up about fame, police work and childhood dreams.
ASP Ryan Koh, Singapore's yan dao cop, opens up about fame, police work and childhood dreams.

If you're one of those that find the 800-plus anti-shoplifting standees of Assistant Superintendent (ASP) Ryan Koh heart-stoppingly handsome, here's some good news for you: there's more of him to love in real life.

While the Singapore Police Force (SPF) posterboy didn't give Yahoo Singapore his exact height during our email interview with him, he did say the standee is smaller than his real self, adding that while he thought the standee looked like him, most people say it doesn't.

Asked how he felt when he first saw his likeness, ASP Koh said it was quite a new personal experience to see images of himself at so many places all over the island.

"Initially I thought that people would recognise me but I realised that most people do not. I have even stood next to the standee and made payment without the cashier realising it!" he said, in an email interview.

ASP Koh, a plainclothes office in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), said he felt 'privileged' and 'thankful' when he was approached to be the face of SPF's anti-shoplifting campaign as he was able to fight crime in a slightly unconventional way.

"All said, I believe everyone already knew shoptheft was a crime even before the roll-out of this campaign. However, not everyone may have known the severity of it. The offence of shoptheft is an arrestable offence under the Penal Code and is punishable by fine and/or imprisonment of up to 7 years," said ASP Koh.

It's not surprising that
ASP Koh lapses so easily into the esoteric details of crime and the Penal Code - this is a man who has dreamed of being a policeman since he was a child.

He suspects his interest in law enforcement and crime investigation comes from the huge number of cop dramas on TV. His journey to don the dapper blue SPF uniform was anything but straightforward, though. Graduating from NTU School of Biological Sciences in 2008, ASP Koh applied for a Senior Police Office position, but missed the recruitment window.

He joined the private sector, but reapplied to the SPF a year later and, this time, got through. The rest, as they say, is history.

What's not history is the latest sensation ASP Koh is the centre of. After seeing the two-year success of the standee, SPF decided to plonk ASP Koh in the centre of an anti-crime video for the Chinese New Year holidays. The response has been, to put it mildly, stunning.

SPF spokesman Assistant Commissioner of Police (AC) Melvin Yong said the police force saw the popularity of the anti-shop theft standee and felt that they could leverage it to deliver a definitive message against shop theft during this festive period.

"This in-house video surpassed our expectations, garnering an overwhelming response from the community, reaching close to 2 million viewers since it was uploaded on 15 February 2015.

"Behind the light hearted nature of this video lies a serious crime prevention message which I am confident will now be on everyone's mind. Shop theft is a crime and everyone can play a part in preventing crime."