SG firefighter stole Apple Watch worth RM1,100 while responding to a possible fire in flat

The smartwatch was not recovered, and Tay has since made full restitution to the victim over its cost. — AFP

SINGAPORE: A Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) firefighter was responding to a possible case of a fire in an Ang Mo Kio flat with his team when he stole an Apple Watch worth S$332 (RM1,154) from one of its residents.

Ernest Tay Xiheng, who was a national serviceman at the time, had the watch with him when he returned to Ang Mo Kio Fire Station later that day.

He later regretted committing the theft, and while riding his motorcycle along Tampines Expressway, flung the smartwatch onto a grass patch.

His offence came to light then its owner, a 30-year-old woman, used an application on her mobile phone several days later to locate the smartwatch and found that it was last used at the fire station shortly before 9am on Sept 1, 2023.

On May 17, Tay, 26, pleaded guilty to a theft charge and was sentenced to three months’ jail.

Tay and his team were deployed to a flat at Block 114 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 after a case of possible fire was reported there at around 7am on Sept 1, 2023.

The woman and the other occupants of the unit were evacuated for their personal safety.

Officers then investigated further as they found no actual fire even though there was smoke at the scene.

During the investigation, Tay entered the victim’s room and took the smartwatch, which he saw lying on the floor.

At the fire station later that morning, he went into a toilet cubicle and reset the device.

Tay took the smartwatch home but became worried the police would find out about the theft. He got rid of the watch soon after.

On Sept 7, 2023, the victim found her smartwatch missing and discovered that it was last used at Ang Mo Kio Fire Station.

Sensing something was amiss, she alerted the police two days later and Tay was arrested on Oct 18, 2023.

The smartwatch was not recovered, and Tay has since made full restitution to the victim over its cost.

Tay was represented by lawyers Josephus Tan and Cory Wong from Invictus Law Corporation.

On May 17, they pleaded for their client to be given not more than two months’ jail.

The lawyers stated in court documents: “Ernest’s actions were not premeditated. He did not at any point ransack the premises or deliberately open drawers (or) cupboards hoping to find something valuable.

“Ernest’s offending... was committed strictly on the spur of the moment. (It) was entirely out of character, and was no less a one-off aberration in his otherwise good conduct.”

The Straits Times has reached out to the SCDF to find out Tay’s current employment status with the agency.

For theft, an offender can be jailed for up to seven years and fined. – The Straits Times (Singapore)/Asia News Network

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