SINGAPORE, Nov 19 — In April, he found a bank card left behind at a DBS bank automated-teller machine (ATM) in Toa Payoh. 

Testing his luck, Yap Yi San tried keying in “000000” as the personal identification number (PIN) but that turned out incorrect. Then, “999999” did not work. On his third attempt, he punched in “888888” — and got through.

The 39-year-old storeman pocketed a total of S$8,000 that night from the bank account of Goh Heng Yong, 46, the owner of the lost debit card, intending to use it to pay off his debts.

It was “sheer dumb luck,” his lawyer said — luck he now wishes he never had. When Goh caught on to the unauthorised transactions, he alerted the police.

Yap pleaded guilty yesterday to two counts of theft and one count of misappropriating the bank card. He was sentenced to nine weeks’ jail.

DPP Chng, however, argued that Yap had tried to crack the PIN not once, but three times, demonstrating a “sustained effort” in trying to access the bank account.

District Judge Marvin Bay, in sentencing Yap, said that he was “mindful of the opportunistic nature” of the offence. It was “pure chance,” he said, that Yap had found the bank card at the ATM and that the PIN was so easily cracked.

“Given the universal use of ATM machines, it is important that the sentence serve as a sufficient deterrent to dissuade others who may be tempted to try their luck when they come across another person’s ATM card,” the judge said.

“Not to blame the victim, but perhaps it would be better if the victim had a less predictable PIN.”For theft, Yap could have been jailed up to three years or fined, or both.

For dishonest misappropriation of property, he could have been jailed up to two years or fined, or both. — TODAY