Man stole excavator from roadside, sold it to unwitting buyer

·Senior Reporter
·2 min read
An excavator at a construction site in Singapore. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
An excavator at a construction site in Singapore. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A man who stole an excavator parked on the roadside to sell to a director of a vehicle parts company was jailed for two years and six months on Thursday (26 August).

Nanthakumaran Lokanathan, 44, pleaded guilty to one count of theft.

He illegally moved the excavator, a Kubota U50-5 model, from its rightful place and delivered it to an unwitting buyer. Court documents did not state how he came up with the idea nor how he managed to move it. 

The excavator was in the possession of Land Equipment, which had rented it to Ram Brothers Construction and Trading from 26 July 2017.

A senior engineer at Ram Brothers Construction & Trading last saw the excavator parked along the pathway outside 14 Jalan Tukang Singapore on 28 March 2018 at about 4.30pm, before it went missing.

Nanthakumaran had approached a third party heavy vehicle repairman to sell the excavator, worth $31,177.50, sometime before 29 March. 

However, the repairman referred Nanthakumaran to the director of Hon Li Hin Enterprise, as he was not in the business of buying machinery. 

The director of Hon Li Hin Enterprise, which manufactures motor vehicle parts, received a call from Nanthakumaran about the sale on 25 March. The director then informed Nanthakumaran to deliver the excavator to his compound at 11 Sungei Kadut Street 4 before completing the transaction.

Between 28 and 29 March, Nanthakumaran stole the excavator and moved it to the compound at Sungei Kadut to be sold for around $5,000 to $6,000. CCTV footage captured him moving the excavator into the area.

On 29 March, upon discovering that the excavator was missing, the senior engineer from Ram Brothers Construction & Trading lodged a police report. 

An inventory manager from Land Equipment checked the GPS system hours later and found the excavator's location. It was recovered on 30 March, before Nanthakumaran could receive any money for the stolen excavator.

Nanthakumaran fled to Malaysia on 30 March and was only arrested on 17 April last year at Woodlands Checkpoint.

Seeking 30 to 36 months' jail for Nanthakumaran, the prosecution cited his history of property-related offences, including theft and attempted theft in 2010, for which he received seven years of corrective training. 

Corrective training is typically imposed on repeat offenders and involves a period of incarceration of between five and 14 years. Such offenders are not usually given early release for good behaviour. Nanthakumaran's property offences date back to 1997. 

He could have been jailed up to three years, and/or fined.

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