Singapore

Young firebug terrorises Circuit Road blocks

Boy, believed to be 8, 
throws lit matches at elderly cleaners

A young boy playing with fire has been causing havoc at several HDB blocks in Circuit Road.

Hundreds of burnt matchsticks were found at the staircases of Block 37 where the terror is believed to be living.

The firebug, who is said to be eight years old, allegedly threw burning matches at two cleaners on Tuesday.

The two elderly women said they suffered minor burns in the incident at the void deck of Block 42.

One of them, Madam Wu Xiu Jing, 76, told Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao that she had been with friends around a stone table at the void deck at about 2.50pm when a boy suddenly threw a lit match at her.

"I felt my left hand burning. I shouted at the boy and he ran away," she said.

"Thankfully, he burned only my hand and not my new $25 shirt."

Lianhe Wanbao reported that 15 minutes later, the boy went to a utility room 200m away and threw lit matches at another cleaner, Madam Zeng Li Li, 71.

She said: "I felt a burning sensation on my back and turned around to see a boy holding a box of matches."

Madam Zeng tried to catch the boy, but he managed to get away. Her painful knee prevented her from chasing him.

Later, she met Madam Wu, who told her about her experience with the boy.

A police spokesman told The New Paper yesterday that they received a call at 2.54pm on Tuesday.

"Upon police arrival, it was established that a case of rash act had occurred," said the spokesman.

The police are investigating.

FAMILIAR

When TNP went to the estate yesterday, several residents said they are familiar with the matchstick terror.

In Block 37, a long trail of matchsticks and burnt paper littered the stairs.

A lifeguard who lives in the block said he sees trails of matchsticks at the staircase "about three to four times a week".

The 26-year-old, who wanted to be known only as Mr Mohammad, said: "It's been going on since January. My clothes also get burned, so I don't leave them outside any more."

He added that there had also been incidents of things being thrown from the block, including a bowling ball that wrecked a motorcycle. It is not known who is behind the killer litter.

Mr Mohammad said: "I went to see my Member of Parliament and asked for closed-circuit television cameras to be installed."

Children living in the block said the matchstick terror has been forcing them to join him in playing with matches.

"When we say no, he lights a matchstick and throws it at us," said 11-year-old Haikal, showing TNP a pair of shorts with a burnt hole.

"He spends all his money on the matches. When he has no money, he goes around asking for 10 cents from random people to buy more matches."

When TNP visited the boy's flat at 8pm yesterday, only his 12-year-old sister was home. She said her parents were still at work.

When TNP saw the boy at the foot of the block, he denied playing with matchsticks.

Dr Carol Balhetchet, a clinical psychologist and senior director for youth services at Singapore Children's Society, said there are two reasons children at that age behave in such a manner.

"They are naturally curious and may experiment without knowing the consequences," she said.

"They are also bored and become mischievous when in a group and left without adult supervision."

She said the best solution is to educate them by warning them and showing them the consequences of their actions.

He spends all his money on the matches. When he has no money, he goes around asking for 10 cents from random people to buy more matches.

- Haikal, 11, on the boy who threw lit matches at elderly cleaners