Aetos officer accused of robbing shop while armed with a gun
The man was allegedly carrying a firearm during the robbery, but did not reveal it to the staff.
An Aetos officer was charged yesterday under the Arms Offences Act over allegedly robbing a moneylending company of more than $24,000 in cash while armed with a revolver, the first time in 15 years a gun was used in an armed robbery.
Mahadi Muhamad Mukhtar, 38, had allegedly approached staff at OT Credit, located at Block 135 Jurong Gateway Road, at about 3.30pm on Monday.
The police said in a statement yesterday morning that preliminary investigations revealed staff at the unit were shown a handwritten note that said: "This is a robbery, don't shout. I got gun in my pocket. Put all the money in the bag." The staff purportedly handed him the cash before he fled.
Mahadi was allegedly carrying a firearm during the robbery but did not reveal it to the staff.
He is believed to have acted alone, said the police, adding that the last armed robbery involving a firearm happened in 2006 at a 4-D outlet at Sun Plaza Shopping Centre.
This is the second time that OT Credit has been targeted by armed robbers. Last November, four men allegedly robbed the moneylending firm of $48,000 in cash while armed with a karambit knife. Kotta Kumar Jeswanth, now 19, was sentenced in February to undergo reformative training for a minimum of one year. The cases involving the three others are still pending.
In the latest case, the police said officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Police Intelligence Department and Clementi Police Division, with the help of Aetos staff, were able to identify the suspect as an on-duty Aetos auxiliary police officer.
This was done through extensive investigations and was aided by images from police cameras and shop closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras.
Mahadi was arrested within five hours of the alleged robbery.
The police, without identifying Mahadi by name, said the suspect had reported to work at Aetos headquarters in Corporation Drive prior to the commencement of his deployment on Monday and drawn his firearm. But he then changed out of his uniform and left the headquarters with his firearm without authorisation.
Investigations also showed that he purportedly deposited part of the stolen cash in the bank account of his friend - Nur Shana Mohd Taib, 34. She was charged yesterday afternoon with one count of receiving stolen property. Nur Shana is alleged to have received $10,000 shortly after the robbery.
Mahadi allegedly also transferred the stolen cash to a few other bank accounts to repay his debt to unlicensed moneylenders.
The police have since arrested eight other people, aged between 16 and 48, in relation to the robbery. About $17,500 of the cash has been recovered, with efforts to recover the rest under way, said the police.
Mahadi has been remanded and is expected to be back in court for a further mention of his case on April 21. If convicted, he will face life imprisonment and no fewer than six strokes of the cane.
Nur Shana has also been remanded to assist in investigations before returning to court on April 21. If convicted, she could be jailed for up to five years, fined or both.
Aetos, in a media statement, did not identify Mahadi by name but said he was an auxiliary police officer who performed general security. It added that the company is extending its fullest cooperation to the authorities in their investigation.
"Aetos has zero tolerance for any form of criminal conduct by any of its employees, especially the unlawful use of firearms. We impose stringent regulations, safeguards and a strict code of conduct on all auxiliary police officers to ensure that they are fit for duty and to carry firearms," the company said.
CID director How Kwang Hwee said the armed robbery suspect had abused the firearm entrusted to him to carry out his duties.
"Police officers worked swiftly to secure his arrest, aided by images from police cameras and shop CCTVs. We managed to do so without harm being caused to the public, given the risk that the robber was allegedly carrying a firearm.
"The police will spare no effort to ensure that such criminals who endanger the public's safety are dealt with firmly and severely in accordance with the law," added Senior Assistant Commissioner How.
ENSURING PUBLIC SAFETY
Police officers worked swiftly to secure his arrest, aided by images from police cameras and shop CCTVs. We managed to do so without harm being caused to the public, given the risk that the robber was allegedly carrying a firearm... The police will spare no effort to ensure that such criminals who endanger the public's safety are dealt with firmly and severely in accordance with the law.
CID DIRECTOR HOW KWANG HWEE
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