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Vietnamese student jailed in Singapore for stealing electronics from A*Star, Apple offices

Vietnamese student jailed in Singapore for stealing electronics from A*Star, Apple offices

Saturday, December 30, 2023, 14:36 GMT+7
Vietnamese student jailed in Singapore for stealing electronics from A*Star, Apple offices
An Apple-made iPad is seen in this illustration image. Photo: South China Morning Post

A Singapore court has sentenced a Vietnamese university student to 11 months in prison for stealing electronic products worth nearly US$31,600 in total from the offices of both the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) and Apple about half a year ago.

Le Viet Hoang, 22, received the jail term on Thursday after he pleaded guilty to “a charge of committing housebreaking, two theft charges, and one charge of committing housebreaking to commit an offense” at his trial on Thursday, according to South China Morning Post

Hoang committed the offenses when he served as an assistant researcher intern at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) in the Innovis Building in the One-north district starting May 22. 

The student had access to all three levels of A*Star’s offices in the building, including level 9 where he had a desk, and found that he could move around undetected at night since there were no closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras around. 

He often worked late into the night, and in the June - July period, he managed to break into some locked A*Star offices on levels 9 and 10 after waiting for all employees to leave the offices.  

The intern then took away various laptops, tablets and computer accessories, which were worth about $22,380 in total.

Hoang also wanted to intrude Apple’s offices in the same building, knowing that Apple products could be sold at higher prices, but he was afraid of the many CCTV cameras in these offices.

On July 14, after being learned of a building-wide power shutdown from 9:00 pm on July 15 to 7:00 am on July 16, the student decided to break into Apple’s offices since the CCTV would not be operating without power.

At about 1:00 am on July 16, he picked the lock on the door to the Apple office on the fourth level, entered inside and stole a number of items such as iPads, iPhones and other Apple accessories.

All these items were valued nearly $9,200, bringing the total value of the electronic items Hoang stole from both the A*Star and Apple offices to some $31,580. 

By the time his internship was nearing to end, Hoang began to feel guilty for having stolen so many things

He therefore decided to break into Apple’s office again on July 30 to return four iPads and some charging cables.

This time, his entry into the office triggered an alarm, which alerted a security officer, who called police that rushed to the scene and arrested Hoang.

The student told the court that he committed the theft so that he could sell the stolen items for money and use the proceeds for his daily expenses and also for remittance to his family in Vietnam.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Vishnu Menon told the court that Hoang had abused the trust placed in him as an employee and roamed the A*Star offices taking what he wanted.

“The accused taught himself how to pick locks as well, using tools he purchased for this very purpose, evincing a high level of commitment to his criminal enterprise,” Menon stressed.

The DPP, however, acknowledged that Hoang had given back or made compensation for all the items he stole.

In Singapore, a theft offender can be given a jail term of up to seven years along with a fine, while those convicted of housebreaking can be imprisoned for up to 10 years and fined, according to The Strait Times.

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Vinh Tho - Khanh Quynh / Tuoi Tre News


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