Theft, Robbery and Burglary under Penal Code, Singapore

by | Apr 23, 2020 | Causing Hurt, Criminal Process, Punishment, Theft

Theft (Sec 379 to 382 Penal Code)

Under section 379 of the Penal Code (Cap. 224, 2008 Rev Ed), anyone who commits theft shall be punished with imprisonment of up to 3 years, or with fine, or with both. While there is no mandatory imprisonment term for offences of theft under section 379, other specific forms of theft are deemed to be more serious. Hence, offenders charged with these other forms of theft will face mandatory imprisonment.

 

Punishment for theft of a motor vehicle

Under section 379A of the Penal Code, whoever commits theft of a motor vehicle or a component part of a motor vehicle shall be punished with imprisonment of up to 7 years and fined. Additionally, the offender will be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving license for a period of time determined by the court upon his release from imprisonment.

The term ‘component part’ is loosely defined as any component part attached to a motor vehicle, including tyres and other motor vehicle accessories.

Theft in dwelling-house etc.

Under section 380 of the Penal Code, whoever commits theft-in-dwelling shall be punished with imprisonment of up to 7 years and fined. This category of theft is broad, and encompasses theft from any building, tent or vessel used as a human dwelling or for the custody of property. It is not unprecedented for shoplifters to be charged under this section of the Penal Code.

 

Theft by clerk or servant of property in possession of master

Section 381 of the Penal Code states that a clerk or servant who commits theft in respect of any property belonging to his master or employer shall be punished with imprisonment of up to 7 years and fined.

Theft after preparation made to cause death or hurt in order to commit theft

Section 382 of the Penal Code states that whoever commits theft and makes preparation for causing death or hurt, or causing fear of death or hurt, to any person in order to commit such theft shall be punished with imprisonment of up to 10 years and caning of not less than 3 strokes.

 

Extortion (Sections 385 to 389 of the Penal Code)

Extortion is committed when the offender places any person in fear of harm to body, mind, reputation or property of that person or of any other person, in order to dishonestly induce that person to deliver property or valuable security. The punishment for extortion is mandatory imprisonment of 2 to 7 years and caning.

Specific forms of extortion and their respective punishments (Sections 385 to 389 of the Penal Code)

  • Extortion that puts or attempts to put any person in fear of any harm caused to that person or any person
  • 2 to 5 years’ imprisonment and caning
  • Extortion committed by putting any person in fear of death or grievous hurt to that person or any person
  • 2 to 10 years’ imprisonment and caning
  • Putting any person in fear of death or grievous hurt to that person or any person in order to commit extortion
  • 2 to 7 years’ imprisonment and caning
  • Extortion committed by putting any person in fear of an accusation against that person, or any other, for a serious crime that is punishable with death, imprisonment for life or a maximum imprisonment term of up to 10 years
  • Up to 10 years’ imprisonment and fine or caning
  • Putting any person in fear of an accusation against that person, or any other, for a serious crime that is punishable with death, imprisonment for life or a maximum imprisonment term of up to 10 years, in order to commit extortion
  • Up to 10 years’ imprisonment and fine or caning

The offences in subparagraphs (b) and (d) above would generally require a threat, of whatever harm specified to any person, made by the offender to the victim. On the other hand, the offences in subparagraphs (c) and (e) that followed may only require a false statement that puts the victim in fear of that same harm.

 

Robbery (Sec 392 to 395 Penal Code)

Robbery is either theft or extortion, under the following conditions.

Theft is robbery if the offender voluntarily causes or attempts to cause to any person death, or hurt, or wrongful restraint, or fear of instant death, instant hurt or instant wrongful restraint.

Extortion is robbery if the offender is in the presence of the person put in fear, and puts that person in fear of instant death, instant hurt, or instant wrongful restraint to that person or to some other person, and, by those means, induces that person to deliver up the thing extorted.

Under section 392 of the Penal Code, whoever commits robbery shall be punished with:

  1. If the robbery is committed between 7pm and 7am, 3 to 14 years’ imprisonment and not less than 12 strokes of the cane; and
  2. If the robbery is committed at any other time, 2 to 10 years’ imprisonment and not less than 6 strokes of the cane.

Voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery

Under section 394 of the Penal Code, if any person voluntarily causes hurt while committing or in attempting to commit robbery, he shall be punished with 5 to 12 years’ imprisonment and caning of not less than 12 strokes.

Robbery when armed or with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt

If at the time of committing a robbery or attempting to commit robbery, the offender is armed with or uses any deadly weapon, or causes or attempts to causes death or grievous hurt to any person, the offender shall be further punished with not less than 12 strokes of the cane, in addition to any other punishment for robbery and its variants.

Punishment for gang-robbery

Gang-robbery is robbery committed by a group of 5 or more persons.

Under section 395 of the Penal Code, whoever commits gang-robbery shall be punished with 5 to 20 years’ imprisonment and caning of not less than 12 strokes.

Gang-robbery with murder

In the group of 5 or more persons who are conjointly committing gang-robbery, if any one of them commits murder while committing the aforesaid gang-robbery, every one of those persons shall be punished with

  1. Death; or
  2. Imprisonment for life and caning of not less than 12 strokes.

 

Burglary

Burglary, or house-breaking, is usually committed with the intent to commit a further offence. Where this further offence is one of theft (or its variants), the following laws are applicable:

Punishment for house-breaking

Under section 448 of the Penal Code, whoever commits house-breaking shall be punished with imprisonment of up to 3 years, or with fine, or with both.

House-breaking in order to commit an offence punishable with imprisonment

Whoever commits house-breaking in order to commit any offence punishable with imprisonment, in this case theft, shall be punished with imprisonment of up to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Dishonestly breaking open any closed receptacle containing or supposed to contain property

In committing theft and house-breaking, if the offender breaks open or unfastens any closed receptacle (like a safe, drawer or cupboard) which contains or which he believes to contain property, he shall be punished with imprisonment of up to 2 years, or with fine, or with both.

Possession of house-breaking implements or offensive weapons

Further, under section 453 of the Penal Code, any person found with house-breaking instruments or offensive weapons can be jailed up to 2 years or fined, or face a combination of both punishments.

For more information, please contact our criminal lawyer, Ray Louis, at 9090 8288.