Chuan Gin Synn v Public Prosecutor

CourtMagistrates' Court (Singapore)
JudgeChong Kah Wei
Judgment Date27 December 2002
Neutral Citation[2002] SGMC 27
Citation[2002] SGMC 27
Published date19 September 2003



1. On 7 November 2002, the Appellant, Chuah Gin Synn ("Chuah") pleaded guilty before me to one charge of theft under section 379 of the Penal Code, Cap. 224.

2. The charge (marked "P1") stated that on 28 October 2002 at or about 3.00 pm, at Metro Department Store situated within Causeway Point Shopping Centre located at 1 Woodlands Square #02-20, Singapore, Chuah committed theft of the following items with a total value of S$259.70:

a. One ‘Triumph’ Bra valued at S$64.90

b. One ‘Concept’ Blouse valued at S$16.00

c. One ‘Concept’ Blouse valued at S$13.00

d. One ‘Concept’ Blouse valued at S$13.90

e. One ‘Pastel’ Blouse valued at S$13.90

f. One ‘Basic’ Blouse valued at S$19.00

g. One ‘Beneto’ Blouse valued at S$29.00

h. One ‘Express’ Blouse valued at S$19.00

i. One ‘Zone’ Blouse valued at S$29.00

j. One ‘Beneto’ Blouse valued at S$26.00

k. One ‘Concept’ Blouse valued at S$16.00.

3. The prescribed punishment was explained to Chuah, who understood the nature and consequences of her plea.

Statement of Facts

4. Chuah admitted without qualification to the Statement of Facts (marked "A"). The facts showed that Chuah is an Australian national, currently residing in Northern Territory, Australia. On 28 October 2002 at about 3.56 pm, one Manisah Binte Ali ("Manisah"), a security officer of Metro Department Store, Causeway Point, called the police and informed them that a female shoplifter had been detained.

5. Investigations revealed that on 28 October 2002 at about 3.00 pm, Manisah was performing her duty on the second floor of Causeway Point when she saw Chuah behaving suspiciously. Chuah had a black plastic bag hanging from her left elbow and was holding on to several pieces of clothing from the store in both her hands. Manisah then saw Chuah put one piece of clothing into the black plastic bag she was carrying. Chuah then put another two clothing items from the store into the black plastic bag.

6. Manisah then saw Chuah going into the fitting room on a few occasions and observed Chuah putting another white blouse into her black plastic bag with her right hand while she held up another blouse with her left hand to obscure her actions. Manisah also witnessed Chuah selecting a red dress and going to the counter to pay for it. In the midst of paying for some of her purchases, Chuah decided against buying one gold-coloured bra and offered to return it to the allocated area. However, Manisah saw Chuah putting the bra into her plastic bag on her way out of the store. Chuah proceeded to leave the store by the main entrance.

7. Manisah managed to detain Chuah outside the main entrance of the store, and brought Chuah to the office where she was asked if she had taken any of the store’s goods without paying. Under subsequent questioning, Chuah admitted that she had stolen the unpaid items. As such, Chuah was arrested and brought back to Jurong Police Station. The eleven items listed above were seized from Chuah’s plastic bag.


8. Chuah is 29 years of age. She has no antecedents.


9. In mitigation, Chuah expressed deep regret for what she had done, and begged for forgiveness and leniency. She stated that she was in Singapore on holiday.

Sentencing Considerations

Gravity of the Offence

10. In the present case, Chuah had stolen not one or a few items, but eleven items from the department store. The large number of items stolen reflects the persistence in her conduct and her audacity. It also shows that the theft was not the result of a momentary lapse of judgment or moment of weakness. The theft of the various items was persistently carried out using a variety of techniques, which included using another item to shield the act of placing the stolen article into her plastic bag, using the privacy of the fitting room, using the cover of paying for some items and pretending to return an unwanted item from the cashier’s counter. The use of these techniques to mask her thefts and escape detection also shows premeditation on her part.

11. The items stolen by Chuah were items of clothing. The large number of the clothing items stolen, for example, ten blouses, clearly shows that these were items of desire rather than need. She could not, and did not, say that she needed the large number of clothing items because she had no clothes to wear. This was a case where she had stolen the clothing items because of greed.

12. The total value of items stolen was S$259.70. In my view, the...

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