Man who stole vape pods from seller and fled in getaway car jailed, fined

·Senior Reporter
·3 min read
A man smoking an e-cigarette. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
A man smoking an e-cigarette. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A man who wanted to resell vaporiser pods for profit decided to grab them from the seller and make his getaway in a car.

Justin Yeo Kiong Swee, 23, roped in two others - one to be his getaway driver and the other for protection - before contacting the seller via a Telegram group chat called "Burning Juice".

Yeo managed to steal two cartons of RELX vaporiser pods, which contained at least 30 boxes of pods.

He was jailed for two weeks and three days’ and fined $2,000 on Wednesday (27 October) after he pleaded guilty to one count of theft, one count of possessing the pods, which is a breach of the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act, and driving a car without care and attention, hence colliding into a motorcyclist. He was also disqualified from driving for six years for the road traffic offence. 

The purchase, use and possession of e-vaporisers is prohibited in Singapore.

Facts of the case

Yeo was part of Burning Juice, which dealt with e-cigarettes, pods, and associated items. He contacted one of the members to buy 100 boxes of RELX vaporiser pods at $28 per box. Each box contained three pods. The transaction was fixed for 28 June last year.  

Yeo contacted two others, Jared Colin Monteiro and Wee Boon How, to help with his scheme. Monteiro would pose as the buyer and also drive the getaway car, while Wee's role was to protect Yeo and Monteiro during the transaction.

On 28 June last year at about 6.30pm, Monteiro called the seller, Phang Zhi Hau, a 28-year-old Malaysian, to say that the trio would arrive at the transaction location in about 30 minutes. Monteiro would then meet Phang and drive off with the goods without paying, while Yeo and Wee waited nearby.

However, Phang saw the duo loitering nearby and suspected that Monteiro had brought reinforcements. He then called Monteiro to meet him at a place with high human traffic, and asked his brother to help him carry the pods to the location.

Both sides eventually settled on meeting at a second storey staircase landing of a Choa Chu Kang HDB block at about 9.30pm. When Phang arrived, he opened the cartons of pods for Monteiro to inspect.

At this point, Yeo and Wee descended from the staircase landing directly above, so that Phang was trapped between the two men and Monteiro.

Yeo then told Phang that he would not be paying for the pods and prevented him from calling for help. Monteiro and Wee each took a carton of the pods and fled to the car. The trio then drove off. 

Yeo eventually resold the pods to a buyer for $30 per box. Monteiro, who had obtained some 30 boxes of the pods, sold half of them for $28 per box.

Phang made a police report about the theft at 12.02am, which led to the arrest of Yeo, Monteiro and Wee. 

In September, Phang was fined $2,000 for selling or possessing imitation tobacco products. Monteiro and Wee's robbery charges are pending. 

Separately, Yeo was also dealt with for a September 2020 incident where he collided into a motorcyclist who was ahead of him in the same lane while driving. He had drunk two glasses of beer before the accident and was later found to have nearly exceeded the legal limit for blood alcohol content in his body. 

Yeo's lawyer Elsie Lim, said that her client "foolish" and has since resolved to turn over a new leaf, deciding to cut ties from friends that "led him down this path". He wants to continue his studies and open a hawker stall with his father. 

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