8 months' jail for stealing items from Salvation Army containers

This article is more than 12 months old

Seeing no one around the donation containers at Salvation Army, a man went home to get his trolley and returned to the Bishan premises to pilfer.

He did this in order to resell the items to recycling companies.

Tan Cheok Yen, 43, stole 311 items such as books, clothes, shoes and compact discs, worth $941, at Bishan Salvation Army on Bishan Street 22 on Aug 25

A sign on the donation containers reads "The donated items here are the property of The Salvation Army. Stealing them is an offence punishable by law", said Deputy Public Prosecutor Huang Jiahui.

An Uber driver passing the site at about 12.55am saw Tan arranging boxes on a trolley beside the donation containers.

Five minutes later, he saw Tan walk past while pushing the trolley filled with the items. The driver called the police and Tan was arrested. All the items were recovered.

Tan was sentenced to eight months' jail on Friday (Nov 3) for theft. He was also given a one-week sentence, to run concurrently, for playing "See Gor Luk", a game of chance, using cash as stakes.

He did this at a table at Kebun Bahru Hawker Centre at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 on Sept 11.

Pushing for at least eight months' jail, DPP Huang said Tan has previous convictions for theft, from 2008. But the convictions have not been sufficient to deter him.

Tan, who was unrepresented, said he was "very sorry".

"I don't know things couldn't be taken from there. I saw people taking from there," he told District Judge Imran Abdul Hamid.

He said had he known it was an offence, he would not have pushed his trolley there.

The judge told him that he was stealing from the poor. Tan said he was not working as he had an "IMH" record. IMH refers to the Institute of Mental Health. He said he did try some jobs but they did not last long.

Tan's sentence was backdated to Oct 4. He could have been jailed for up to three years and/or fined for theft. The maximum penalty for gaming in public is a $5,000 fine and six months' jail.