In the second armed robbery reported over two days, a man with a knife forced a Western Union employee to hand over more than $2,000 at its Ubi Avenue 1 branch yesterday morning.
The suspect, who was last seen in a white helmet, black jacket and dark-coloured trousers, remains at large. No one was injured, and the man fled on foot, said the police.
At about 11am, a florist at Strongberg Florist Trading in Block 301 heard the female employee from the Western Union branch next door cry out. The remittance company employee was alone in the shop then.
“She shouted, ‘Please help me, there was a robbery’, so I ran out to see what had happened,” said the florist, who wanted to be known only as Mr Liu.
“She looked very anxious and panicked,” added the 56-year-old, who also owns the unit where the Western Union branch is located.
Noting that police often make their rounds in the evenings when it gets busier, he said he hopes they will increase patrols in the area.
When The Straits Times arrived at the scene at around 1pm, officers were seen interviewing people nearby. The Western Union branch was shuttered.
The Western Union employee, who was identified as Ms Hankum Porntip, 28, left the scene in a police car at around 3pm. She did not respond to media questions.
When approached, staff at nearby shops said they had no clue that a robbery was taking place.
“I’ve worked here for around five to six years, and it has always been quite safe,” said a traditional Chinese medicine physician whose shop is nearby. He wanted to be known only as Mr Lee.
An employee of mooncake bakery Tai Chong Kok said she had never noticed security staff working at the Western Union branch, whose clientele are mostly foreign workers. The branch is often crowded during the lunch hour on weekdays, she added.
On Monday, a 48-year-old man was arrested just four hours after he allegedly robbed a Shell petrol station at 219 Upper Bukit Timah Road, also armed with a knife.
When contacted, Western Union said it is cooperating with investigations. It will also continue to provide support for the employee who was in the outlet in the days ahead.
There were 93 cases of robberies last year, down from 230 in 2014. The number of armed robberies reported dipped from 50 in 2014 to 15 last year.
Police investigations in the Ubi case are ongoing.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2017, with the headline ‘Man wielding knife at large after fleeing Western Union with $2k’. Print Edition | Subscribe