Kopitiam Manager Steals Money From Kopitiam, Then Got Another Man To Pretend To Rob His Outlet

The Chinese have a saying: “自导自演“. When translated to English, it means “Self-direct, self-act”;

And really, I can’t think of a more fitting phrase to describe the following article headline:

Kopitiam Manager Staged Fake Robbery At His Outlet To Hide His Theft

According to TODAYonlinea manager of Kopitiam food court has been sentenced to 25 weeks’ jail on Thursday (2 March) after staging an armed robbery at its Riverdale Plaza outlet last year (2019).

He had engaged a friend’s acquaintance to “rob” the outlet of S$6,000, in a bid to cover up the S$26,043 he had misappropriated from the safe deposit box.

According to the report, Lee Kah Yeow had mishandled the funds to settle his gambling debts. He reportedly owed three banks around S$40,000 in total, while drawing a salary of close to S$3,000 every month.

In an attempt to cover up the money he had taken, Lee decided to fake a robbery before the company’s half-yearly audit was conducted.

After devising his plan, he met up with his friend Hoi Hoy Leong and Mr Hoi’s acquaintance, Tan Lye Meng. Lee initially offered the “job” to Mr Hoi, but the latter rejected it. Lee then approached Tan and asked him to consider it.

As a Wise Old Man would put it: “There comes a time when you’ve to make a decision for yourself.

“Some are straightforward… others are not.”

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A Ruse That Requires Dedicated Acting

Tan was told to bring a knife with him and “action only” for the closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the management office. And to make the scene more convincing, Tan was to command Lee to “stick his head” in the safe before fleeing.

In return, Tan will be allowed to keep the “stolen” sum of money.

Tan consented, and the robbery was scheduled on 3 March 2019.

On the day itself, Tan went in while Lee was positioned at his desk in the management office; the former then pulled out a knife from his bag and gestured it at Lee, ordering the latter to occupy the bag with money from the safe.

Lee “complied”, placing the bag inside the safe to prevent CCTVs from capturing the exact amount taken.

Once done, Tan told Lee to stick his head in the safe as previously instructed, and swiftly fled. Lee then dialled the police.

A robbery play devised with the utmost ingenuity, carried out with extreme precision and  distinctly dependent on the actors’ acting abilities; it might’ve darn well worked out too, had it not been for two things:

  • This isn’t a Hollywood film
  • Real-life doesn’t quite work out like Leonardo Di Caprio films
Image: Giphy

Well Yeah, It Didn’t Work Out

Lee, as you already know, didn’t manage to escape ‘unscathed’. He was arrested just three days later and had to give statements to the police.

At that point in time, however, he failed to concede his part in the staged robbery.

In court, District Judge Marvin Bay considered how Lee had taken “elaborate lengths… to lend an air of authenticity by giving stage directions to your accomplice to exercise a measure of aggression and brutality”.

He was subsequently sentenced to 25 weeks of prison time. For “criminal breach of trust”, he could have been jailed up to seven years, fined, or both.

The misappropriated sum of S$26,043 has also since been fully restituted.

Tan, on the other hand, was handed a four-month jail sentence for the robbery.


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Crime Does Not Pay

It’s simple to take the easy way out, turning your head away from your own wrongdoing as you “自导自演” your own deceptive lies. But at the very end, the question begets;

Is it truly worth it?

Because for Lee, the misappropriating of funds must surely not be worth that now-permanent stain on his previously upright record.

A big price to pay, and a telling notion that crime, in actuality, does not pay.

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