55 people nabbed over alleged theft of grocery vouchers
Minister says 229 sets of vouchers were stolen, less than 0.2% of total mailed out
A total of 55 people have been arrested as of last Wednesday over the alleged theft of grocery vouchers.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Second Minister for Finance and National Development Indranee Rajah said 229 sets of grocery vouchers have been reportedly stolen as of last Wednesday.
This amount is less than 0.2 per cent of the total 150,000 sets mailed out, with each set worth $150. They are meant to help the lower-income with household expenses during Covid-19.
The spate of thefts surfaced last month after letterboxes in estates such as Redhill, Marsiling, Lengkok Bahru and Toa Payoh were prised open and vandalised.
Ms Indranee said: "Based on the Singapore Police Force's investigations, the thefts appear to be opportunistic and the cases are not linked. In some cases, the recipients had left their letterboxes unlocked."
She added the stolen vouchers have been voided and replacement vouchers are being issued.
She said: "We encourage everyone to keep their letterboxes locked, and repair any damaged letterboxes to avoid theft."
Addressing questions from Members of Parliament on how the authorities chose to distribute the vouchers, Ms Indranee said the government decided to disburse them via tracked registered mail after considering public health constraints, convenience for the recipients and security.
Ms Indranee said digital vouchers were not feasible as some recipients may not be digitally equipped.
Most of the recipients are aged 55 and above.
She said: "If digital vouchers were used, more time and effort would have been needed to first provide appropriate digital interfaces before the recipients can receive the intended support for their household expenses."
She added that the option of self-collection would create additional inconvenience for senior citizens, especially for those who are less mobile, and may also create crowds.
To mitigate theft and fraud, each voucher has unique features for tracing purposes and for identifying the intended recipient.
She added: "That said, we will continue to review the ongoing disbursements to balance between security and convenience for recipients."