Receiving Stolen Property in Singapore – FAQs

Receiving Stolen Property in Singapore – FAQs

What is a “Stolen Property” under Criminal Law?

The explanation of stolen property is provided under section 410 of the Penal Code. Stolen property is such property, the possession of which is gained through:

a) Theft
b) Extortion
c) Robbery
d) Criminal Misappropriation
e) Criminal Breach of Trust
f) Cheating

Subsection (2) of section 410 mentions that stolen property also includes any property:

a) Into which stolen property has been converted or exchanged.
b) For which stolen property has been converted or exchanged.
c) Acquired by such conversion or exchange.

Such conversion or exchange can be immediate or otherwise.

What if the Offenses were committed in a Different Country?

Whether the above-mentioned offenses through which the property has been gained are committed within Singapore or outside Singapore is irrelevant. Even if the offense has been committed in some other country, the property can be designated as stolen under this section.

What if the Stolen Property falls into the Possession of the Owner?

If such property later falls into the possession of a person lawfully entitled to possess it, it ceases to be stolen property.

Is Proving the “Offense” Necessary for a Property to be Categorized as “Stolen”?

The prosecution does not need to prove the elements or particulars of any offense mentioned above that contributed to or caused the property to be designated as stolen property to prove whether the whole or any part of that property constitutes “stolen property”.

What is the Offense of Receiving Stolen Property?

Mentioned under section 411 of the Penal Code, a person is said to have committed the offense of receiving stolen property if such person receives or retains any property which they know or have reason to believe to be stolen or obtained through fraud or dishonesty. Such property, if obtained in part through any offense involving fraud or dishonesty can still be categorized as stolen property.

What are the Main Elements of the Offense of Receiving Stolen Property?

The main elements of the offense of receiving stolen property are:

a) Receiving or retaining any property
b) Knowing or having reason to believe such property is stolen, or
c) Knowing or having reason to believe such property is obtained through any offense involving fraud or dishonesty, whether in whole or in part

What is the Defense available for the Offense of Receiving Stolen Property?

The defense which is available for a person who is accused of receiving stolen property is to prove that he exercised reasonable care as soon as he came to know or had a reason to believe that such property was stolen or obtained through any offense involving fraud or dishonesty. Thus, there was a reasonable excuse to receive or retain the stolen property with him/her. The time in which reasonable care should be exercised is at the earliest as practicable by the accused person. The burden of proof is on the accused.

How to Avail this Defense in Real Life?

If you receive a large amount of money in your bank account and later discover that amount while checking your bank balance giving you a reason to believe that such amount was obtained through any criminal offense involving fraud or dishonesty, you should report such to the bank authorities at the earliest as practicable. Thus, you will have a reasonable excuse to retain that amount while the authorities are processing the report which has been filed. This can be used as a defense against the offense of receiving stolen property.

What is the Offense of Receiving Property Stolen in the Commission of a Gang Robbery?

This is an aggravated form of receiving stolen property mentioned under section 412 of the Penal Code. A person is said to have committed this offense if they receive or retain a stolen property and:

a) Such a person knew or had reason to believe that the property was obtained through the commission of a gang robbery, or
b) Such property was received from someone who the person knew or had reason to believe to belong or have belonged to gang robbers, and
c) Such a person knew or had reason to believe that the property was stolen

What is the Defense Available for the Offense of Receiving Property Stolen in the Commission of a Gang Robbery?

The defense which is available to the accused of this aggravated form of receiving stolen property is the same as the defense available to the non-aggravated offense. The accused will have to prove that he exercised reasonable care as soon as he came to know or had reason to believe any of the above-mentioned points, thus, giving him/her a reasonable excuse to receive or retain that property with them. Reasonable care has to be exercised at the earliest and the burden of proof is on the accused.

How to Avail this Defense in Real Life?

If you received diamonds through a courier and later saw on the news that such diamonds were obtained in the vicinity by gang robbers, you must report such to the police at the earliest. Thus, while reporting to the police, if you had placed the diamonds in a safe box at your house, you will have a reasonable excuse to retain those diamonds if accused of the offense of receiving stolen property.

What is the Offense of Habitually Dealing in Stolen Property?

This is another aggravated form of receiving stolen property mentioned under section 413 of the Penal Code. A person is said to have committed the offense of habitually dealing in stolen property if such person habitually or often receives or deals in property which they:

a) Know or have reason to believe to be stolen, or
b) Know or have reason to believe to be obtained through any offense involving fraud or dishonesty, whether in whole or in part

What is the Offense of Assisting in Concealment or Disposal of Stolen Property?

Mentioned under section 414 of the Penal Code, a person is said to have committed the offense of assisting in concealment or disposal of stolen property if such person:

a) Voluntarily assists in concealing, or
b) Voluntarily assists in disposing of, or
c) Voluntarily assists in making away with property
Such a person must also know or have reason to believe that the property was stolen or that it was obtained through any criminal offense involving fraud or dishonesty whether in whole or in part. Assisting in the above-mentioned acts must be done voluntarily by the person who is accused of the offense.

What is the Punishment for the Offense of Receiving Stolen Property?

The punishment for receiving stolen property, as mentioned under section 411(1), is imprisonment for a period of up to 5 years and a fine or either.

What is the Punishment for Receiving Stolen Property (Motor Vehicle or any Component of it)?

The punishment for receiving stolen property which is a motor vehicle or any part of a motor vehicle, as mentioned under section 411(2), is imprisonment for a period of up to 5 years and a fine. The accused may also be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s license for a period determined by the court from the date of his release from imprisonment.

What is the Punishment for the Offense of Receiving Property Stolen in the Commission of a Gang Robbery?
The punishment for the offense of receiving property stolen in the commission of a gang robbery, as mentioned under section 412(1), is imprisonment for a period of up to 20 years and a fine.

What is the Punishment for the Offense of Habitually Dealing in Stolen Property?

The punishment for the offense of habitually dealing in stolen property, as mentioned under section 413 of the Penal Code, is imprisonment for a period of up to 20 years and a fine.

What is the Punishment for the Offense of Assisting in Concealment or Disposal of Stolen Property?
The punishment for the offense of assisting in concealment or disposal of stolen property, as mentioned under section 414(1), is imprisonment for a period of up to 5 years and a fine or either.

What is the Punishment for Assisting in Concealment or Disposal of Stolen Property (Motor Vehicle or any Component of it)?

The punishment for assisting in concealment or disposal of stolen property which is a motor vehicle or any part of a motor vehicle, as mentioned under section 414(2), is imprisonment for a period of up to 5 years and a fine. The accused may also be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s license for a period determined by the court from the date of his release from imprisonment.