Nguyen Thi Thu Huong, 31, who is pregnant and identified as the ringleader of the shoplifters, was sentenced to one year and 11 months in jail, while another woman, Tran Thi Phuong Thao, 29, will spend 22 months behind bars, the Strait Times reported.
Two men, Duong Tuan Dat, 27, and 30-year-old Van Tu Nguyen received the same sentence as Huong. All four suspects pleaded guilty to two counts of being in possession of fraudulently obtained items and one theft charge.
According to the indictment, the accused drew up a plan to come to Singapore and steal clothing items from shopping malls and sell them after returning to Vietnam. Before arriving, the gang prepared special shopping bags lined with aluminium to avoid being spotted by anti-theft sensors, prosecutors said.
The gang entered the island state on September 13 this year and targeted a Japanese retailer as they had heard that many pieces of clothing did not have sensor tags attached.
Two days later, all four went to a Uniqlo store in the Downtown East shopping mall on Pasir Ris Street and pilfered numerous clothing items.
The store manager called the police, saying that some items had been stolen from his shop . An employee had given chase, but the culprits jumped into the bushes and escaped.
Police arrested the gang on September 16 at Hotel Re along Chin Swee Road. From two rooms they discovered 1,454 items worth more than $30,000.
Investigations showed that the group had stolen clothing items from several shopping malls across Singapore and moved some of their loot from one hotel to another to avoid suspicion.
Some Vietnamese people are earning an unsavory reputation in several Asian countries like Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia by engaging in illegal acts like shoplifting. Over the last few months, several have been caught engaging in petty crimes.
Citizens of ASEAN member nations can travel within the region without applying for a visa and stay as tourists for 30 days.
The number of Vietnamese traveling to Singapore last year was more than 530,000, the ninth highest group of foreign visitors to the island nation.
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