SINGAPORE: A teenager was sentenced on Wednesday (Oct 25) to reformative training for repeatedly stealing from homes rented through home-sharing websites like Airbnb and HomeAway.
Muhammad Hakim Muhalil, 18, rented the rooms with his then-girlfriend Nor Amelia Natasha Nordin between September last year and March this year, and broke into locked rooms in the flats to steal items worth a total of S$40,000.
On the first occasion, on Sep 9, 2016, they stole a Macbook Pro and an Apple iPad 2 worth more than S$2,000 from a Eunos Crescent flat.
They went on to steal from homes in Hougang, Joo Chiat, Geylang, Tampines, Pasir Ris and Jurong West, among others, often targeting laptops, mobile phones, cameras and other electronic devices.
In multiple instances, Hakim broke door knobs to enter the rooms they stole the items from. On one occasion, he used the pipe of a vacuum cleaner to break a door handle.
On another occasion, he climbed through the toilet window of an Airbnb home at Mount Vernon Road to get into the locked master bedroom ,where the duo stole more than S$2,000 worth of items including an ASUS laptop and a Nikon D5500 DSLR camera.
Some of the items were sold at Sim Lim Square or pawned, the court heard. The money was then used to rent more Airbnb rooms, or to buy meals and pay for LAN gaming.
For his crimes, Hakim faced a total of 21 charges, seven of which were proceeded on. The rest were taken into consideration.
Amelia is at large as she absconded while on bail.
Hakim's stepfather, who wanted to be known only as “Mike”, said the teenager was a very good and intelligent boy, but that he changed after mixing around with bad company.
Hakim’s mother, who wanted to be known only as Madam Nor, told Channel NewsAsia: "We still have hope in him. He’s still my son."
"I take this opportunity to apologise to the victims involved," she added.
Responding to Channel NewsAsia's queries, an Airbnb spokesperson said: “We have zero tolerance for this sort of behaviour. We have worked with the police to help make sure those responsible are held accountable, and we have banned them from using Airbnb.”
“We were deeply concerned to learn about these incidents, and we have worked with the affected hosts to offer assistance through our Host Guarantee,” the spokesperson added.