Singapore – A 47-year-old man was sentenced to one month’s jail on Thursday (Jan 7) for stealing S$600 worth of Budget 2020 grocery vouchers, which included burning some as an offering for his late wife.
Upset that he did not yet receive his grocery vouchers, Alvin Law Choon Huat took it upon himself to steal his neighbours’ vouchers back in October 2020. He had gotten four sets of vouchers from the letterboxes at public housing blocks located in Marine Terrace, going for unsecured or damaged letterboxes, reported todayonline.com.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Jane Lim noted Mr Law “felt it was unfair that others received the vouchers.”
However, Mr Law did receive his vouchers a few days later and combined them with the stolen ones. He used them to purchase a vacuum cleaner and groceries. Mr Law also burnt the remaining ones as an offering for his late wife.
“If I bring (the stolen vouchers) to the police, I would be arrested. So I mixed them together, bought a little food for my family and the rest, I burnt them,” said Mr Law through a Mandarin interpreter, as quoted by Today.
“I know that by doing so, I made a mistake, so I have nothing more to say.”
Mr Law, who was unemployed when he stole the vouchers, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft. Another two similar charges were taken into consideration during his sentences.
In a separate incident occurring in the same month, a woman was arrested for suspected involvement in a case of theft at a residential block along Lorong 7 Toa Payoh on Oct 11.
“The offence of theft under Section 379 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224 carries an imprisonment term which may extend to three years, or fine, or both,” said the Singapore Police Force.
The SPF also released an advisory urging the public to immediately collect their grocery vouchers as theft reports increased.
Second Minister for Finance Indranee Rajah told Parliament in November last year that by the end of October 2020, a total of 229 sets of vouchers worth S$150 each were reported as stolen. There have been 55 arrests made under the offence.
Mr Law is believed to be the first individual to be dealt with in court for grocery voucher stealing. In seeking the one-month sentence given to Mr Law, DPP Lim said imprisonment was necessary to deter others from similar actions.
Mr Law had also not made repayments for the stolen vouchers, noted DPP Lim. “He had committed the offences clearly out of greed,” she added.
Mr Law will begin his sentence from Feb 15, after a district judge approved his request for deferment to care for his 17-year-old daughter. He is also out on S$10,000 bail.
The vouchers support scheme is a part of the GST (Goods and Services Tax) voucher benefits that have been disbursed to Singaporeans during the month of August since 2012.