SINGAPORE - He was sitting at the void deck yesterday, watching the world go by when two police cars pulled up.
Seven officers ran out to the playground in front of the block at Upper Boon Keng Road and started scanning the flats.
Then another two police cars arrived at the scene. Before he could even count how many men in blue there were, a group from the special command operations turned up.
That was when retiree Peter Lim, 60, knew something unusual was happening.
"It was after 5pm and suddenly, more and more officers started gathering in front of the block. It's the first time I've seen over 30 police officers running around,"he said in English.
So Mr Lim hurried to his 11th-storey rental unit at Block 19, Upper Boon Keng Road, to alert his wife. The elderly couple live there with their grand-daughter. While he was in the two-room flat, two officers came a-knocking.
"They told me they were looking for a man. He was dressed in yellow and had tattoos on his hand," Mr Lim recalled. "They asked if I had seen such a person and I said no. So they advised us to lock the door while they searched for him. I heard he was a robber." Mr Lim did as he was told.
Door to door
He said: "I saw policemen going door to door on every floor. I even saw officers on the lift landing at every level."
He was worried that the suspect might barge into his flat and take his family hostage.
But after 10 minutes of staying indoors, Mr Lim's curiosity got the better of him. So he went out and joined the growing crowd of onlookers in front of the block.
"I stood at the roadside to see the action. That was when I overheard an officer telling his colleague, 'The suspect is here.' But I didn't see them arresting anyone," the retiree added.
A dating couple said the police even searched their flat.
The woman,who declined to give her name but said she was a civil servant, was visiting her 24-year-old boyfriend who lives in the block with his mother when two officers appeared at the doorstep.
"They said they were looking for a guy in his 20s. They asked why we didn't lock our gate (because it's usually open) and wanted to know how many people lived here.
"They came in and checked our identity cards, while we sat side by side in the living room. They even opened the cupboards to make sure there was no one inside," she said.
The officers left after less than 10 minutes. Police later told The New Paper that they arrested a 22-year-old man at Block 2D Upper Boon Keng Road, which is across the road from Block 19, last night.
They received a call around 5.20pm informing them that someone had been robbed at Block 468, North Bridge Road. When officers arrived at the scene, they confirmed that three paid mobile phone cards had been stolen from an elderly man in his 90s.
Officers from the Central Police Division, Bedok Police Division and the Special Operations Command arrested the suspect after searching the Upper Boon Keng Road area.
The New Paper understands that the police are also on the lookout for another man in his 20s in connection with the case.
But some residents did not seem to be affected by the incident. The woman whose boyfriend's flat was searched said: "It's normal. We always see police officers on patrol.
"But I've been telling my boyfriend to move out. Maybe now he'll listen to me."
Mr Lim agreed that the area is not safe. Since moving from Bishan 2 1/2 years ago, he has noticed several police patrols.
"The people here have a lot of problems. Last month, someone jumped from the ninth floor. But I don't intend to leave. I didn't offend anyone, so I have nothing to worry about," he said.