SINGAPORE — A police officer who wanted to free his bicycle from its lock, but had lost its key, decided to call other officers to do the deed for him.
Station Inspector Ong Chee Seng lied to fellow officers that he had found his stolen bicycle locked at the bicycle bay of Waterway Point, when in fact, he had locked it there earlier.
The 50-year-old decided to call the police on 26 May this year after his friends jokingly suggested that he do so for a “free service”. They had not expected Ong to actually call the police.
Ong was fined $3,000 on Thursday (21 October) after he pleaded guilty to one count of furnishing false information to the police, causing an officer to carry out investigations into the alleged offence. Another count of the same nature was taken into consideration for his sentencing.
Responding to media queries, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said that Ong had been interdicted from service since 3 September. The SPF has since commenced "internal action" against him.
Facts of the case
At about 11.30am on the day of the incident, Ong had ridden his foldable bicycle to Waterway Point shopping mall to buy lunch. He secured his bicycle with a lock and kept the key in the pocket of his shorts. Upon returning to his bicycle, Ong could not find his key.
He decided to take the train home and leave his bicycle behind. At around 3.30pm, Ong left his residence to look for equipment at Compass One and Waterway Point that could remove his bicycle lock. He could not locate the necessary cutter.
Ong then approached a security counter at Waterway Point to borrow a cutter, but the security team declined to help him as they were unable to verify that the bicycle was his.
Later that day, Ong sent a message in his WhatsApp group chat to ask if he could borrow a cutter. One of his friends teased him and suggested that he could call the police and claim that he had found his stolen bicycle. Ong could obtain a “free service” from the police, who would then help him free his locked bicycle, the friend said jokingly.
Another friend also suggested in jest to Ong that he should take pictures of his locked bicycle to show to the investigation officer.
'I need police assistance'
Taking the suggestions to heart, Ong Googled the hotline for Punggol Neighbourhood Police Centre at about 5.30pm that day. He told an officer, “I found my stolen bicycle here at bicycle bay of Waterway Point, I need police assistance”.
An investigation officer was assigned to Ong’s case and two officers were dispatched to the bicycle bay.
When asked where Ong had previously parked his bicycle, Ong pointed to another location within walking distance of the bicycle bay. He lied that he had parked and secured his vehicle along the railing of My Waterway @ Punggol before heading to Waterway Point that morning.
He lied that when he returned, his bicycle was gone. He then added that that evening, he chanced upon his bicycle secured with a bicycle lock at the present bicycle bay. Ong showed the officer old pictures of his bicycle.
The officer walked around the area to check for CCTV cameras and took a photo of Ong to match his attire to CCTV footage. The officer informed that police would check the footage to verify if the bicycle was his.
At this point, Ong confessed to his lies as he knew the footage would show that he was the individual who had placed the vehicle at the bicycle bay.
It was 'very stupid of him'
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sheryl Yeo noted that as a result of the false information provided by Ong, multiple resources were expended by the Singapore Police Force (SPF), with ground response officers and an investigation officer activated to conduct further investigations.
Ong's lawyer Low Hui Hui said that Ong had offended "out of sheer stupidity". It was "very stupid" of him to take his friends' advice about calling the police, said Low.
In response to District Judge Janet Wang's query, the prosecution said no action had been taken against Ong's friends, who were his former SPF colleagues, as their comments were meant as a joke.
For providing false information to a public officer, Ong could have been jailed up to one year, or fined up to $5,000, or both.
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