Tourist visiting Singapore stole S$29,000 from friend and gambled it all away, gets jail

Tourist visiting Singapore stole S$29,000 from friend and gambled it all away, gets jail

SINGAPORE: A woman holidaying in Singapore stole S$29,000 that her travel partner had left behind in their hotel room, gambled it all away at the casino and ignored her friend until she was tagged her on Instagram.

South Korean Song Hayan, 31, was sentenced to six months’ jail on Wednesday (May 24) after pleading guilty to one charge of theft.

The court heard that Song visited Singapore with her friend, a 30-year-old South Korean woman, on Apr 17. 

They stayed in a different hotel at first, before switching to a room at Marina Bay Sands on Apr 20.

At about 1pm on Apr 21, the victim left to go shopping on her own, leaving Song sleeping in the hotel room.

When the victim returned at about 3pm, Song was no longer in the room.

The victim then looked for a transparent bag of hers that contained S$29,000 in hundred-dollar notes, but could not find it. 

She called Song’s mobile phone, but there was no answer. She tried to look for Song at the Marina Bay Sands casino but could not find her either.

After this, the victim posted an Instagram story and tagged Song, saying she knew that Song had taken her money and urging her to return it.

Shortly after this, Song called the victim and asked to meet at the casino. She admitted to taking the money and said she had lost the full amount gambling at the casino.

The victim called the police and Song was arrested that same day. 

Investigations revealed that Song had searched the victim’s belongings and stolen the bag as she knew the victim had a large sum of currency with her.

No restitution was made.

The prosecutor sought eight to nine months’ jail, saying this case involved theft of a significant amount.

Song had also committed the offence for her personal benefit, to use the money for gambling. She also abused the trust of her friend, who trusted her enough to be travelling with her and staying with her in the same room, said the prosecutor.

Song was remanded and appeared in court via video-call. She listened to proceedings through a Korean interpreter and began crying when she heard the jail term that the prosecution was seeking.

She told the court that she had heard she would receive three weeks’ jail, and said she was very shocked that they were seeking eight to nine months.

She sobbed and repeatedly begged for leniency, saying she had not lied about her offence and that she would pay her friend back when she can.

She also said her mother was waiting for her and would be very worried if she did not return by the time she was expecting.

The judge told Song that he hoped this episode would be a lesson to her that Singapore has zero tolerance towards crime, and theft offences are treated seriously here.