Living Beside A Wi-Fi Thief: How One Couple Managed To Avoid Getting Hacked & Solved The Problem

10 May 2023 | BY

This is the story of one crafty neighbour that leeched off multiple homes’ Wi-Fi connection and how a wise couple dealt with her.

wifi thief - cover image

For those living in an HDB flat, the neighbours you get are like a lottery. Friendly and quiet neighbours are a precious commodity, while nosy and noisy neighbours seem like a living nightmare. We all have our fair share of experiences under public housing – the good, the bad, and the ugly. But have you ever heard of a Wi-Fi thief?

In this day and age, the Internet is ubiquitous and a Wi-Fi connection can easily be set up. It seems like nearly everyone has Wi-Fi – or at least data connection to the internet. 

But in a country with nearly 5.5 million people, there will be exceptions to the rule. For David and Judy, there was one bad egg among the good neighbours that they had. The couple’s immediate neighbour, Wanda, built herself a notorious reputation as a Wi-Fi thief over the years. Here’s how David and Judy chose to settle this pressing issue.

Nothing suspicious in the beginning

wifi thief - bukit merahImage for illustration only.
Image credit: HDB

David and Judy decided on their forever home in Bukit Merah, a mature town close to the city centre. After moving into their home in 1975, the couple became close to their neighbours, including Wanda. Over the years, David and Judy became known as a friendly and reliable couple who would go out of their way to extend help and give advice.

In fact, the couple’s HDB was full of kind souls. Since they live in a mature estate, the OGs have known each other for more than 40 years and still embody a true kampong spirit. 

Cue the villain of this story, Wanda. Wanda is a middle-aged lady living with her parents. “We’ve known her since she was a child, and she was nothing but studious back then,” David recalled.

Occasionally, she would ask for favours from David and Judy, such as embroidering her clothes and fixing leaking pipes. The couple were happy to help, but they were oblivious to the fact that this was merely the onset of her pestering.

The first victim

wifi thief - front doorImage for illustration only.
Image credit: The Local INN.terior

One day, Wanda knocked on the couple’s door. She told them that her Wi-Fi had stopped working and asked if she could borrow their connection in the meantime. Judy apologised to Wanda, stating that her children had set up the router for her and that she didn’t know what her Wi-Fi password was. 

Judy assured Wanda that once David came back, he could try and help troubleshoot her Wi-Fi problems. But Wanda declined Judy’s offer and hurriedly went back into her home. Judy noticed that she seemed flustered but didn’t think much of it. 

The next day, the Wi-Fi thief had already claimed her first victims – a pair of siblings, Ryan and Rose, who lived a floor below Wanda. It wasn’t till 8 months later that Wanda was caught. 

wifi thief - routerImage for illustration only.
Image credit: @hardcarry_mall

Rose had felt that her Wi-Fi was slower than before and asked her brother Ryan about it, who had no clue either. Rose then asked if Ryan had let anyone use the Wi-Fi. to which he said no. After a discussion, Rose found out that Wanda had previously asked them for cooking oil, and Ryan let her in to take some.

Rose let David and Judy know of this, and the couple helped to figure everything out. Since the siblings frequently had guests over, they displayed their Wi-Fi password on a whiteboard. Wanda had seen the password and used it to access the siblings’ Wi-Fi for the next 8 months, secretly.

To solve the problem, David helped the siblings change the Wi-Fi password so that Wanda could no longer leech off of them.

Snooping tendencies

Now that Wanda was left without Wi-Fi, she resorted to petty tricks in a bid to get Internet access. 

Whenever David and Judy had guests over, Wanda would always be conveniently near their door gate, greeting others with a smile. The couple suspected that Wanda had thought since first-time guests would ask for the Wi-Fi password, she could eavesdrop and resume her thieving ways. Knowing this, they guarded themselves.

Other times, she would ask increasingly overboard favours from the couple and insist on entering their home. The couple declined, aware of what had happened to the siblings before. Frustrated that her wily ways didn’t work on David and Judy, Wanda started to pester other neighbours instead.

wifi thief - corridorImage for illustration only.
Image credit: @thuyni 

Judy noticed that Wanda would walk up and down the corridor multiple times, every day, for no apparent reason. She would peek intently into her neighbours’ homes, hell-bent on finding something – presumably the Wi-Fi password.

More victims

wifi thief - hospitalImage for illustration only.
Image credit: Netflix

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Wanda would go as far as to lie about her circumstances in an attempt to steal their Wi-Fi connection.  

For David and Judy, Wanda told them that she needed the Wi-Fi to contact her dad, who was allegedly in the hospital, to “fill in some information”. When they rejected her, Wanda slammed their door in anger. For others, the storyline was the same, but the person in the hospital was changed.

One family took pity on her, thinking that it would be a one-time use. Their kindness allowed Wanda to surf the Internet for a year and three months until their plan expired.

wifi thief - phoneImage for illustration only.
Image credit: Unsplash 

Wanda even managed to hack into and access 2 other homes’ Internet connection – an elderly couple and a family of 5. She surfed the web unnoticed and without shame for the next 2 years. All these victims had no idea that their Wi-Fi connection was being used by Wanda and her family, until they all went to David and Judy for answers since the couple was wise, reliable, and conveniently immediate neighbours with Wanda.

The thing is, the victims couldn’t bear to strain their neighbourly relationships and confront Wanda since they had all known each other for more than 4 decades. “Part of them doesn’t want to acknowledge that Wanda has turned out like that, desperate and thieving,” David shared. But slowly, everyone’s relationship with Wanda and her family soured. 

Choosing to be smart

At this point, everyone knew of Wanda’s Wi-Fi stealing habits. She was known as the “Wi-Fi thief”, “bandwidth bandit of Bukit Merah”, and more by her community. 

With enough evidence and many rumours as receipts, David and Judy cautioned surrounding neighbours not to fall for Wanda’s tricks or accidentally display their Wi-Fi passwords in a visible area. And as immediate neighbours, the couple were chosen by their community to be the ones to address the issue with Wanda.

wifi thief - singtelImage for illustration only.
Image credit: Street Directory 

As it turns out, Wanda thought that it was too costly to buy an internet subscription plan since she had to feed herself and her parents. She had other siblings as well, but they all failed to care about Wanda and their parents. With some convincing from David and Judy, Wanda made a  trip to Singtel to get an Internet router-cum-modem, finally.

Living beside the “bandwidth bandit of Bukit Merah”

Although David and Judy did not personally get their Wi-Fi stolen, living beside neighbours who fell victim has been scary for them. Their original plans of living harmoniously with everyone had been disrupted by Wanda, who wanted to leech off people’s Wi-Fi instead of paying for her own. Her behaviour caused everyone to be on edge 24/7.

Fortunately, after Wanda received help and funding from the government, she could consistently pay for her Wi-Fi plan and no longer caused any more trouble for her neighbours. David and Judy also reached out to Wanda and offered a listening ear in case anything else happened. With this couple’s help, their HDB block was back to normal. 

Names and stories have been edited slightly for clarity and privacy.

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Cover image adapted from: @hardcarry_mall, @thuyni 

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