For snatching mobile phones belonging to young school children and punching a 12 year old who chased him, a 49 year old unemployed man has been jailed for 13 weeks.

Between Nov 2012 to Jan 2014, Tan Teck Choot forced six children in the Jurong area to pass their phones to him before walking off.

On one occasion on Feb 6, 2013, he approached a 10-year-old girl outside her primary school on Corporation Drive and told her he wanted to borrow her iPhone 4 to make some calls.

When the girl gave him her phone, worth $500, he put it into his pocket and walked away. She followed him for a few blocks but lost sight of him.

Two days later, he used the same ruse on a 12-year-old boy near Chin Bee Road. When the boy sought help from passers-by, Tan created a scene and told bystanders that the boy was his son.

It was only until 27 January 2014 that Tan Teck Choot was caught after his victim and two bystanders chased him down. Despite Tan’s best efforts to escape, he was cornered on a public bus and tried to bribe the victim with $70 in exchange for not handing him over to the police. Tan was only caught on Jan 27 last year, after his final victim and two bystanders chased him down.

The victim, an 11-year-old boy on his way home from Pioneer MRT station, was accosted by Tan, who asked for directions and later fiercely demanded the boy’s Samsung Galaxy S3 phone.

Frightened, the boy handed it over, but followed Tan. Along the way, he encountered passerby Muhammad Danial Anwar, who was 21 at the time, and asked him for help. Mr Danial Anwar called the police and started to chase Tan as well.

Another 12-year-old boy joined in the pursuit around Jurong West Street 65. Tan threw the phone on the ground and tried to run away, but the 12-year-old boy pulled on his haversack to stop him. Tan punched the boy on the chin and fled.

The chase continued onto Pioneer Road North, where Tan tried to escape on a public bus, but his pursuers told the driver not to let him on board.

Finally, at a void deck along Jurong West Street 91, Tan tried unsuccessfully to give the 12-year-old $70 if he would agree not hand him over to the police.

None of the children involved in the case can be named due to a gag order.

S. S. Dhillon who represented Tan said that he suffers from depression and had an adjustment disorder. But a check with the Institute of Mental Health by DPP Kelvin Kow indicates that Tan had no mental illness.

For each charge of criminal breach of trust, he could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined. For voluntarily causing hurt, he could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000.

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