Downtown East shopping mall in Pasir Ris, Singapore. Photo: Google Maps

A 31-year-old pregnant Vietnamese woman and three compatriot accomplices were each jailed for more than 20 months by a Singapore court on Monday after pleading guilty to two counts of being in possession of fraudulently obtained items and one charge of theft.

The court learned that Nguyen Thi Thu Huong orchestrated a stealing spree in Singapore, with accomplices identified as men named Van Tu Nguyen, 30, and Duong Tuan Dst, 26, as well as a woman named Tran Thi Phuong Thao, 29. The four stole clothing from fashion retailers across Singapore to sell when they returned to Vietnam, the Shin Min Daily News reported.

Prior to arriving in Singapore on September 13, the syndicate had prepared special shopping bags lined with aluminium in an attempt to stop electronically-tagged items from triggering anti-theft alarms.

Between September 15 and 16, the four stole 1,460 items with an estimated value of at least S$45,104 (US$32,940) from fashion retailers across Singapore including Uniqlo and Zara.

The stealing spree was first uncovered on the afternoon of September 15 at a Uniqlo outlet in Downtown East shopping mall in Pasir Ris, when a security alarm sounded as Duong tried to leave the store carrying stolen items.

The police were called, and by the next day, all four were identified and arrested in a room at a Chin Swee Road hotel, where a total of 818 stolen pieces of clothing worth more than S$21,000 were recovered.

Led by Van, officers found another 636 pieces of clothing worth more than S$23,000 in a room at another hotel in Jiak Chuan Road near Chinatown.

Ringleader Nguyen and the two men were each sentenced to 23 months in jail while Tran was given a 22-month jail term.

Van reportedly intends to lodge an appeal against his sentence, believing that he should have been entitled to a lighter punishment for helping the police to recover stolen items.