Habitual car thief gets 42-month jail sentence

|     Fadley Faisal     |

ABDUL Muezz bin Haji Wahab, 27, was sentenced to 42 months’ imprisonment by the Magistrate’s Court recently, after he pleaded guilty to multiple charges of theft of cars and concealment of stolen property.

On the morning of May 17, 2018, victim A parked his car near the Istana Nurul Iman police control post, in order to start his shift at the Hyatt Borneo Management Services.

On the same evening, the defendant walked towards Istana Nurul Iman from the Tumasek jetty, looking for a car to steal.

When he spotted victim A’s car, he went over to open the door and start the engine with a rusted key that he had found inside. He then left the scene and drove towards Kampong Panchor Mengkubau.

Victim A finished his shift at around midnight and returned to the area where he had parked his car, only to find it missing. He then went to the Central Police Station to lodge a report.

On May 18, 2018, the defendant was driving victim A’s car along Jalan Lambak Kanan, when it broke down. He then asked a friend, D, to tow the car away for repairs.

On May 20, 2018, shortly before midnight, victim B parked his car in the vicinity of Block J, Kampong Batu Bersurat.

On the same evening, the defendant was waiting for his friend near the Gadong area. While doing so, he went over to Kampong Batu Bersurat and came into the vicinity of the building, where he saw victim B’s car.

The defendant unlocked the car, using an improvised key from his pocket, started the engine and drove the car away from the scene.

The defendant then changed the registration number of the car, to avoid identification.

On May 22, 2018, the defendant drove victim B’s car to D’s house in Lambak Kanan, to check on victim A’s car which was parked there.

Acting on a public tip-off, the police went to D’s house, where they saw victim A’s car. They also encountered the defendant in the house, and after conducting preliminary investigations, they concluded that it was the defendant who had stolen both cars.

Several months later, on the evening of December 29, 2018, the defendant went to a hotel in Gadong by taxi, to meet a friend who worked at a restaurant.

On the same evening, victim C parked his car in a parking lot along Jalan Dayang Siti Hamidah in Gadong.

The defendant went to the same parking lot and saw victim C’s car, which he initially mistook for a vehicle that belonged to his Filipino friend.

The defendant approached the car and opened the driver seat’s door that had been left unlocked.

When he discovered that the car did not belong to his Filipino friend, the defendant started the engine using a key that he had brought along, and drove the car over to a parking lot at Kampong Pintu Malim.

When victim C found his car missing, he immediately lodged a police report.

The defendant disposed of all the items inside victim C’s car, removed the licence plates and replaced them with plates that he found on the ground.

On the morning of December 30, 2018, the defendant drove victim C’s car to Kampong Sungai Panga to fetch his girlfriend. From there, they drove to Kampong Mentiri.

On the same day, in the afternoon, the defendant parked victim C’s car at the Kampong Sungai Kebun Shopping Complex, and returned to his house in Kampong Ayer.

When the defendant returned to the car, he encountered two men. It did not occur to him that one of them was victim C.

Victim C lodged another police report in the evening, which led to the defendant’s arrest.

DPPs Sabrina binti Haji Mahmud and Hajah ‘Adzimah Mukarramah binti Haji Salleh provided the court with the defendant’s long history of theft offences.

On passing the sentence, Magistrate Hajah Ervy Sufitriana binti Haji Abdul Rahman said that a custodial sentence was justified, given the defendant’s record as a habitual offender.