Auxiliary police officer jailed 9 months for stealing $23,000 meant for ATMs

SINGAPORE - Instead of safeguarding the monies meant for automated teller machines (ATMs), an auxiliary police officer stole $23,000, hiding most of the stash under his bed.

Former Aetos Security Management employee Chai Chong Sien pilfered the monies on multiple occasions between March and June this year, while his colleagues were busy replenishing the cash in the ATMs.

On Tuesday (Nov 12), the 34-year-old was sentenced to nine months' jail after he pleaded guilty to one count of criminal breach of trust.

Chai was part of a three-man team charged with topping up the cash in ATMs belonging to DBS bank, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Thiam Jia Min told the court.

He was commonly deployed as a driver in the team, and his two teammates were responsible for transporting cash cassettes to the ATMs.

As the designated replenishment officer and guardsman, Chai's teammates were required to don body-worn cameras to ensure they did not steal cash while handling the cassettes. But Chai, as the driver, did not have to as he was not supposed to be handling the cash cassettes.

According to Aetos' standard operating procedure, the designated replenishment officer has to call the command centre for a code to open the van's vault in which the cash cassettes are stored, said DPP Thiam.

"As this process was troublesome and time-consuming, a common practice on the ground was for the RO (replenishment officer) to pre-load multiple cash cassettes out of the vault onto the passenger seats of the van," she said.

This meant that Chai, as the driver, was often left alone to "safeguard" the van and preloaded cash cassettes, while the other two were replenishing cash, she said.

"The accused would use some force to knock on the cassette shutter, which would then open and allow him access to the cash contained inside," said DPP Thiam.

Chai's actions only came to light when DBS found a significant shortfall of cash in its ATMs, which "prompted an internal investigation by Aetos", she said.

Chai spent $2,900 of the stolen monies to cover personal expenses. The police seized the remaining $20,100, which had been hidden under Chai's bed in his rented home. No restitution has been made for the sum spent.

A spokesman for Aetos said Chai is no longer with the company, adding that Aetos has zero tolerance towards such acts of misconduct.

"We will also continue to strengthen all processes to ensure full compliance and security of the utmost standards," said the spokesman.

For his crime, Chai could have been jailed up to 15 years and fined.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.