SINGAPORE — A cargo handler who worked at Changi Airport drove a forklift in the wee hours to steal 6.8kg of bird’s nest worth almost S$3,600.
Pang Lishuai entered the restricted area hours before his work shift to move the bird’s nest, which was in transit in Singapore. He later collected the bird’s nest and brought it back to his home.
Pang, a 28-year-old Chinese national, was jailed for 18 weeks and fined $2,000 on Tuesday (11 January), after he pleaded guilty to one count of theft as a servant, and one count of entering a restricted area beyond the time that he was allowed to do so. Another charge of stealing the forklift was taken into consideration for his sentencing.
Pang was employed as a cargo handler by Singapore Airport Terminal Services (SATS) and tasked to drive a forklift and transfer cargo.
On 19 November last year, the cargo containing a box of bird’s nest, valued at US$2,613 (S$3,582.48), arrived in Singapore from Jakarta at night. The box and bird's nest weighed about 11kg in total.
At about 2.41am on 20 November, the box was conveyed to a cargo cage in SATS Airfreight Terminal 5. It was scheduled to depart for Taipei later that morning.
At that time, Pang had a Seasonal Airport Pass which granted him access to restricted areas in Changi Airport. As a holder of the pass, he was only allowed entry for official purposes.
Pang’s official work shift was from 1am to 10am on 19 November and from 9am to 6pm on 20 November. However, he entered the Changi Airfreight Centre Checkpoint at Changi Airport at 2.49am on 20 November, contravening the terms of his pass.
He then entered the employee changing room to change into his work uniform before proceeding to the cargo sorting area at SATS Airfreight Terminal 5. He started a forklift, valued at $40,000, and drove it towards the cage.
Pang stole the bird’s nest with the forklift. He drove the forklift with the loot to a ramp leading up to level two of SATS Airfreight Terminal 5. At about halfway up the ramp, Pang stopped the vehicle and threw the bird’s nest over the side. The item landed on a grass patch.
After returning the forklift to its original position, Pang changed out of his uniform. He left the premises and collected the stolen item from the grass patch before taking a taxi home.
The bird’s nest was discovered missing and a police report was lodged, leading to Pang's arrest.
Pang confessed to stealing the box as he felt it contained something valuable. He sold the bird’s nest for $5,000 to an unidentified woman and spent the money. He did not make any restitution.
In mitigation, Pang said through an interpreter that he was a single parent supporting two children and elderly parents. He added that the children did not have the love of their mother and he hoped to return to them soon.
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