Western Union robber finally nabbed – with the help of technology and a bit of modern day ‘kampong spirit’

Finally, after a three-day manhunt, a 56-year-old man has been arrested on 3 August in relation to the brazen robbery at a Western Union branch in Ubi. The man allegedly threatened an employee at knifepoint, and made away with more than S$1,000. It was known that the man initially took about S$4,000, but dropped some of the cash which was later found near the carpark area behind the branch.

Despite the suspect taking great pains to conceal his trace and his identity, the police managed to track down the suspect – with the combined help of Singaporeans and the police.

The public provided footage from in-car cameras, various housing estates (private estates, shophouses, eateries). These, combined with police camera footage and police knocking on doors and making enquires, made it possible for the suspect to be identified and arrested.

According to reports, about 130 police officers from the Bedok Police Division had painstakingly trawled through 1,000 hours of CCTV footage.

Superintendent K. Vasanthan, the head investigator of Bedok Police Division, said that CCTV footage gathered from the public provided crucial leads in tracing the suspect’s escape route. He also said, “It’s the small things that helped us put the jigsaw pieces together.”

Police’s preliminary investigations also showed that the suspect has spent almost all the money, including on 4D tickets.

While some members of the public have raised privacy concerns on the installation of security cameras, you have to agree that in this case – where there is little forensic evidence – technology and its solutions (i.e. security cameras) played a huge role in solving the crime.  These are small steps in which Singapore is taking to advance to a smart nation. Maybe in the near future, technology would be so advanced that there would not be a need for such manual trawling of evidence – we would be able to solve crimes at the click of a mouse.

And in case you are wondering what will happen to the suspect – if he is convicted of armed robbery, he may be jailed between two and 10 years, and get at least 12 strokes of the cane.