Yishun high-rise drama: Intruder hides in strangers' flats to evade cops
Intruder hides in sixth-storey unit, then third-storey unit, in bid to evade cops
For 20 agonising minutes, a mother and her three young children were stricken with fear when they were held captive in their Yishun flat yesterday.
A desperate intruder had broken into their home and was trying to escape the police.
He was eventually arrested.
Speaking to The New Paper after the incident, Madam Suhadah Jumadi, 33, said she was getting ready to break fast in the living room with her children at their home in Block 431B, Yishun Avenue 1, when she saw a barefoot man walk out of her bedroom.
He had climbed into her sixth-storey flat through the master bedroom window from the level above, breaking her window grilles.
She had not heard him because the TV had been on and her children had been playing.
"The man told me not to call the police and he asked me to find a way to help him get away," Madam Suhadah said.
Then, she heard a commotion at her door as well as sounds under the block.
"I could see uniformed officers outside (the window on the first storey), as well those knocking on my door (through the peephole).
"That's when I knew he was a wanted man," she said.
The human resource and accounts manager was worried for the safety of her three children, aged two, five and seven.
She said: "He had a pouch with him, but I didn't know what was inside. What if he had a gun or a knife and wanted to hurt us? It was just me, my children and the maid at home."
Her husband is on a work trip overseas.
The man, who had a shaven head and tattoos, told her not to open the door for the police officers. When Madam Suhadah's maid tried to do so, he immediately slammed it shut.
"My children got scared and the younger two started crying. He told me to control my children and (added) that he just wanted our cooperation."
That was when she told him to escape through the kitchen.
But Madam Suhadah could not find the keys to the window grilles. This made the man increasingly anxious.
"Out of desperation, he broke the grilles and climbed out. Before leaving, he told me 'God bless you'.
"Then he saw that I had opened the door for the police and he uttered (an expletive)," she added.
A police spokesman confirmed the incident, saying they received a call for assistance at about 7.25pm.
The 41-year-old man was caught by the police on another storey. (See report on facing page.) He is assisting police with investigations.
The New Paper understands that the case is believed to involve drugs and that the man was staying at one of the units in the block.
When TNP visited Madam Suhadah's home at about 9.15pm yesterday, her relatives were helping her put cable ties on her window grilles.
Visibly shaken, she said her family had been living in the flat for less than a year, but were now so traumatised by the incident that she wanted to rent it out.
Police officers were seen questioning residents of the unit directly above Madam Suhadah's flat.
A woman in the unit declined to comment when approached.
At about 11pm, police sniffer dogs were taken to the unit. They stayed for about 10 minutes.
'He just wanted to talk'
After the man climbed out of the sixth-storey flat, he is believed to have gone into units on the fifth and fourth storeys before ending up in Mr Tan Cheng Hoon's third-storey one.
The 46-year-old was watching TV in his room when he saw a shadow in his living room and heard the main door opening.
"I came out and got a shock when I saw a man standing inside my house trying to close my front door," he told The New Paper in Mandarin.
"When I asked him how he got in, he said he climbed in through the kitchen window and was trying to find a way out."
When Mr Tan went back to his room to retrieve keys for the main gate, the man followed him in and sat on the floor in front of Mr Tan's bed.
"He started talking to me, telling me that he fought with his wife and that he needed to run away," Mr Tan recounted.
Dressed in a singlet and shorts, the man had a pouch with him which he emptied. Among its contents were cigarettes and some lottery tickets.
As the police came knocking, the man pleaded with Mr Tan not to let them in, even grabbing his hand.
"He seemed like a nice man and it didn't look like he was going to harm me. But I was worried that I might be committing an offence by harbouring a fugitive," Mr Tan said.
When he opened the door, he said, the officers had their tasers drawn and some were holding protective shields.
"The officers rushed in and tried to search for him, but he wasn't in my room. So they went into my parents' room where they found him hiding in a cupboard," he said.
Officers offered to evacuate Mr Tan, but he asked to stay behind to make sure the police officers did not mess up his home.
"There was quite a bit of shouting and it took them about 20 minutes to arrest (the man).
"After that, they took him to my living room where paramedics gave him a medical check-up before he was taken away," Mr Tan recounted.
He seemed like a nice man and it didn't look like he was going to harm me. But I was worried that I might be committing an offence by harbouring a fugitive.
- Mr Tan Cheng Hoon (below)