Monday, July 11, 2016

Holland Village Bank Robber Arrested In Thailand. Raised More Questions.

The latest on this robbery is that the robber David James Roach, is still in Thai custody and Thailand have officially rejected Singapore's request to extradite him to Singapore. No reason given, but he is likely to be deported back to his home country Canada. The Thai action is expected since there is no extradition treaty between the two countries and this is also Singapore own undoing, as they gave unacceptable conditions in the proposed treaty.

Now more questions being asked. How did the suspect escaped out of the country? If the Police already know his identity, as is the case, how could he had crossed the immigration checkpoint? And why is he a Canadian instead of an Australian as reported by authority earlier?

This is a grim reminder of Mas Selamat's case. He escaped to Malaysia. So this robber could have done the same, by swimming across the straits and made his way to Thailand from Malaysia. And we thought, after the Mas Selamat case, the coast guards are now equipped with the most advanced human detection equipment along the Straits? Puzzled.

BANGKOK: The man suspected of robbing Standard Chartered's Holland Village branch is refusing to cooperate, said Thai police chief Jaktip Chaijinda on Wednesday (Jul 13).

Speaking to the media after questioning the suspect, Mr Chaijinda said he refused to talk and requested for a lawyer to be present. He added that less than S$30,000, some notes and a notebook were found at the scene during the arrest of the Canadian, whose identity has been confirmed by Thai officials as 27-year-old David James Roach.

Based on investigations, Roach arrived in Bangkok alone and he was supposed to transfer the stolen money somewhere else, Mr Chaijinda said, adding that the suspect's right to stay has been revoked under the country's immigration law.

On releasing the suspect into Singapore's custody, Mr Chaijinda said: "We have no extradition treaty with Singapore, Singapore may have to discuss with Canada."

However, he also said that the police are liaising with Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Attorney General's Office and authorities in Singapore about extraditing Roach.

The suspect, who is currently being detained in Bangkok's Suan Plu Immigration Detention Centre, allegedly robbed S$30,000 from the bank on Jul 7.

He fled to Bangkok on the same day shortly after the crime was reported, and he was arrested by Thai police on Jul 10 at a hostel in Bangkok's Pratunam district.

Interpol Bangkok head Police-Major General Apichat Suriboonya told Channel NewsAsia on Tuesday that Singapore had sent an extradition request to Thailand's Attorney General's Office and that the request is being processed.

Royal Thai Police located and detained the man on Sunday (10 July). Singapore authorities have asked their Thai counterparts to release the suspect into their custody.

The man suspected of robbing Standard Charted Bank's Holland Village branch on Jul 7 was making his first visit to Singapore, according to Police Major-General Apichat Suriboonya, who is the head of Interpol Bangkok.

Mr Suriboonya told Channel NewsAsia on Tuesday (Jul 12) that the man, who is from Canada, had been to Thailand "many times", according to records. The suspect was arrested on Sunday at a hotel in Bangkok's Pratunam district, he added, and is now in detention in Thailand's Immigration Department.

Last Thursday (7 July) at about 11.25 am, the suspect made off with $30,000 in cash from the bank. A police spokesman said that no weapon was used during the commission of the crime.

The suspect left Singapore for the Thai capital shortly after the robbery. Police later established his identity.

In response to queries from Yahoo Singapore, a Standard Chartered spokesman said, “We’re glad that the police investigations have progressed and the suspect has been detained. We will continue to fully cooperate with the police on the investigations.”

Standard Chartered bank’s Holland Village branch was robbed on July 7 morning at about 11.25am, and according to Shin Min Daily News this was the note the robber handed to the bank teller before she quickly handed him $30,000.

From the various reports in the newspapers and social media, it is established that the suspect is is a tall, skinny, Ang Moh Australian who was wearing a grey hoodie and mustard-coloured pants. There were no security at the bank when the robbery occurred.

Since the robbery, most banks in the Holland Village area have beefed up their security. It is unclear why the banks in the area chose not to invest in good security before the robbery. It could be because of a false sense of security since bank robberies in Singapore are almost unheard off. Or it could be because of cost cutting measures.

For Reference......

SINGAPORE - The man who robbed a Standard Chartered Bank branch in Holland Village has been nabbed in Thailand after more than 72 hours on the run, police confirmed on Monday (July 11).

The man was arrested by the Royal Thai Police in Bangkok on Sunday (July 10), police said in a statement.

According to Major General Apichart Suriboonya, who heads Thailand's Interpol unit, the suspect is Canadian. He flew from Singapore to Thailand last Thursday, arriving at 5.08pm. On Sunday, he was arrested at noon at Boxpackers Hostel in Bangkok.

Major General Apichart, who declined to name the suspect, says the Thai police cancelled his right to stay in Thailand after receiving an arrest warrant from Singapore authorities. He is now being detained at an immigration detention centre in Bangkok.

When Thai police questioned him, "he said nothing" and demanded to meet an officer from the Canadian embassy, Major General Apichart told ST. But it was not possible as it was a Sunday and the embassy was closed.

It is unclear whether an embassy officer has gotten in touch with him but Thai police are seeking to question him more, said the major general.

He was unable to say how long it would take to extradite the suspect, but added "I think it won't be long". Singapore sent the request to extradite him to the Thai embassy in Singapore on Friday night. This request needs to pass through Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, then to the Thai attorney-general's office first before being approved, he said.

On Thursday (July 7), the suspect had walked into the bank around 11.25am, handed the female teller a piece of paper with his demands and later fled on foot with about $30,000.

Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily News reported that the note said: "This is a robbery, I have a weapon, give me money, don't call police."

The teller handed over the money for fear that the man would use his weapon. She then alerted the police shortly afterwards.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the police said that it managed to establish the identity of the suspect on the same day but he had already left Singapore for Bangkok, shortly after the crime was reported.

The StanChart branch did not have a security guard then, but a bank spokesman said it had "in-branch security measures" such as closed-circuit television cameras.

Further details beyond the initial police statements were not disclosed earlier to ensure that arrest operations were not jeopardised, police said.

"The Singapore authorities are currently engaging our counterparts in Thailand to see whether the suspect can be released into our custody," the police added.

Mystery heist: how did robber steal US$22,000 from Singapore bank armed with nothing more than a piece of paper? (SCMP)

Singapore police said on Friday they are hunting a man who managed to steal more than US$22,000 from a bank using nothing but a piece of paper.

The suspect, described as Caucasian, strolled into a Standard Chartered branch in Holland Village, an expatriate enclave of the city, around lunchtime on Thursday and handed staff a note with his demands.

Minutes later, he walked out of the branch with S$30,000 (HK$172,500) in cash, a source close to the investigation said.

A police spokesman confirmed the robbery and said no weapon was used, but gave no details of the note’s contents.

One resident, who lives in the Chip Bee Gardens estate across the street, told The Straits Times that police visited his home with a picture of the suspect. He was described as Caucasian and dressed in a grey hoodie and mustard trousers.

In a statement later, a Standard Chartered Bank spokesman said that no employee or customer was injured in the incident.

The spokesman added that the bank has filed a police report and is assisting with investigations.

“We would like to highlight that the safety of our customers and staff are our top priority and our branch staff are all well trained to react in such situations,” the spokesman said.

Bank robberies are rare in Singapore, whose tough stance against crime and strict ban on private gun ownership have made it one of Asia’s safest cities.

The last attempt was in November 2008 when a man disguised himself as a woman threatened tellers with what he called a “bomb” in a paper bag. He was restrained by bank staff and arrested.

Meanwhile.....the banks and the media defended the Teller, in the ST as expected. ST reported....

A teller who handed over about $30,000 in cash to a robber at Standard Chartered Bank's Holland Village branch on Thursday did the right thing, according to the bank, which has tightened security there with a security guard.

Yesterday, an islandwide manhunt continued for the Caucasian man who had brazenly walked into the bank around 11.25am, slipped the teller a piece of paper with his demands, then got away with the money on foot.

The branch did not have a security guard then, but a bank spokesman said it had "in-branch security measures" such as closed-circuit TV cameras and staff "are well trained to respond to such situations".

The teller acted in line with the bank's protocols and "in the best interests of our customers and our colleagues", the spokesman added. "Everyone was safe."

She also said the bank has taken immediate action to further enhance security, without giving details, citing ongoing investigations.

Yesterday, a Certis Cisco security guard was present at the Holland Village branch, but this is understood to be a temporary measure.

A police cordon outside the Standard Chartered bank branch in Holland Village on June 7, 2016.

Business is as usual at the Standard Chartered bank Holland Village branch on Friday (July 8), a day after the robbery.

Business as usual a day after robbery at Standard Chartered bank in Holland Village

Banks contacted said it is not mandatory for banks to have security guards, although many do.

The Straits Times observed yesterday that of the six banks - HSBC, StanChart, OCBC Bank, DBS Bank, Citibank and Maybank - in that stretch of Holland Village, the last two were the only ones that appeared not to have a security guard.

Maybank responded to say that it has Certis Cisco armed guards stationed at all its 22 branches islandwide, including the one at Holland Village.

"In addition, we have standard in-branch security measures such as CCTVs. We have also provided training to our staff to handle such situations and our policy is always to prioritise customer and staff safety," said the Maybank spokesman.

An industry source said bank staff are instructed to hand over money peacefully during a robbery so as not to endanger the safety of staff and customers.

Police officers and investigators from the CID at the Standard Chartered Bank branch in Holland Village after the robbery on July 7, 2016.

"We always tell staff - don't attempt to bring attention to the robbery. You don't want to agitate the robber or antagonise him. What if he pulls out a gun and it turns into a hostage situation? That's even worse," he said.

Most banks that The Straits Times contacted yesterday said the latest incident has not prompted a review of their security measures, since these are regularly updated.

DBS said its branches are "equipped with robust security systems and features".

A spokesman for OCBC said it has measures such as round-the-clock surveillance cameras and Certis Cisco guards. United Overseas Bank said its branch employees and security personnel have been reminded to be extra vigilant.

It is understood that the police are studying CCTV footage from the vicinity of Holland Village to identify the suspect, who was described as a Caucasian wearing a grey hoodie and mustard trousers. No weapon was seen during the robbery, which was over in minutes.

Business returned to normal yesterday along the stretch where the StanChart branch is located. Before the bank opened at 10am, customers were already waiting in line.

Retiree Daniel Liu, who is in his 60s, said he does not think another robbery will happen. "Singapore is very safe and has a good reputation."

Another retiree in his 60s, Mr Johnny Shing, said: "These things don't usually happen. I think there is no cause for alarm."

More people streamed into the bank during lunchtime, with many seen carrying out transactions at the automated teller machines and making inquiries at the counters.

Outside the branch, a few curious passers-by peered through its glass entrance.

Some customers wondered if the robbery would have happened if a guard had been present.

"I think it would've made a difference," said Mr Willy Lau, 43, who is self-employed.

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