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Nanthakumaran Lokanathan tried to sell an excavator worth about S$31,000 for S$5,000 to S$6,000. ― Unsplash pic
Nanthakumaran Lokanathan tried to sell an excavator worth about S$31,000 for S$5,000 to S$6,000. ― Unsplash pic

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SINGAPORE, Aug 26 — Soon after stealing an excavator from a Jurong industrial area and attempting to sell it, Nanthakumaran Lokanathan fled to Malaysia and was arrested only two years later.

The 44-year-old Singaporean was today (August 26) jailed two-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to a theft charge.

Court documents did not state how he stole the heavy construction equipment, which was worth about S$31,000 (RM96,142).

But the court heard that construction firm Ram Brothers Construction & Trading rented it and last left it along a pathway outside 14 Jalan Tukang in Jurong on March 28, 2018.

The next day, a representative from the firm checked the excavator’s global positioning system and realised that it was on the premises of used-vehicle-parts dealer Hon Li Hin Enterprise, in the Kranji industrial area.

Closed-circuit television camera footage showed that Nanthakumaran brought the excavator into the compound around 11.30am that day before leaving.

Nanthakumaran had earlier approached Mok Fook Wah, a third-party heavy-vehicle repairman, to sell an excavator. 

Mok then referred him to the director of Hon Li Hin Enterprise, Jway Hong Chua.

Based on court documents, Nanthakumaran called Jway with his sales pitch on March 25, 2018, three days before the excavator went missing. 

Nanthakumaran followed Jway’s request to deliver the vehicle to his premises. It was to be sold for S$5,000 to S$6,000. 

But before Nanthakumaran could receive any money, Ram Brothers recovered the excavator from Jway on March 30, 2018.

Nanthakumaran left for Malaysia that day when he found out that the police were searching for him.

He was arrested at the Woodlands Checkpoint only on April 17 last year.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Chee Ee Ling asked for a jail term of  two-and-a-half to three years, noting that Nanthakumaran had re-offended soon after his release from seven years of corrective training in January 2018 for attempted theft.

Corrective training, typically given to habitual offenders, carries a minimum five-year jail term. Early release for good behaviour is not allowed.

In mitigation, Nanthakumaran’s lawyer Justin Phua argued that his client ultimately did not gain financially from the theft and did it out of “poverty, foolhardiness and desperation”.

In sentencing him, District Judge Eugene Teo considered Nanthakumaran’s early plea of guilt and that the excavator was recovered soon after the theft, which reduced the harm caused from his acts.

The judge also warned Nanthakumaran not to “end up in the same situation again”.

Nanthakumaran could have been jailed for up to three years or fined, or given both penalties. ― TODAY

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