A recap about Dave Teo, the NSF who went AWOL with his rifle and bullets

Anyone who has been through NS in the army would know about Dave Teo, the NSF who climbed out of his camp during his guard duty with a rifle and live rounds. His escape shocked Singapore although his AWOL (absent without official leave) was less than 24 hours, with the news media only reporting it after the arrest has been made.

This infamous incident occurred on the night of 2 September 2007. Corporal Dave Teo was to ORD in October 2007, which meant he was just about one month away from ORD.  A soldier in the 1st Singapore Infantry Regiment, it occurred in Mandai Hill Camp. At 11:59 p.m., it was discovered that Teo had gone missing with his SAR21 rifle and five live rounds that were used for his guard duty (i.e. patrolling and guarding the camp premises). The Military Police was called in to search for him in the camp, and when they were certain that he was no longer in the camp, they called the Singapore Police to conduct a nationwide search for him.

200 officers were deployed to look for Teo in the early morning of 3 September 2007. 20 hours after Teo disappeared, he was found in the toilet of Cinelesisure. It turned out that he apparently had eight live rounds instead of five, with the three extra being smuggled out during a live-firing exercise earlier. The police also found a 40 cm knife with him.

The SAR21 rifle can be dissembled into two large pieces to fit into a bag. In a live-firing exercise, no one is supposed to bring out any rounds, even those that were expended.

It was then reported that before Teo went AWOL, he had called one of his good friend, asking if he could stay with him overnight as he had “quarreled with his family”. His friend turned him down. Teo then climbed out of the camp, and stayed in a hotel with an accomplice, Ong Boon Jun, who also faced the same charges. He then went to Cineleisure, presumably to find his ex-girlfriend, Crystal Liew.

There were speculations that his AWOL was due to his failed relationship with Crystal—they had dated for three years, but broke off on March 2007. Teo was angry and had allegedly “harassed” Crystal, even making death threats to her and her family. She was immediately put on protection by the police upon the start of the nationwide search.

Teo was sentenced to nine years and two months in prison, and two strokes of the cane. In other words, he might still be in prison now.