SINGAPORE — A man stole two neighbours’ Budget 2020 grocery vouchers from their unsecured letterbox after he received his own set of vouchers.
Zamri Mohamed Ali was traced after his girlfriend used the vouchers at an NTUC outlet.
Zamri was jailed for a week on Monday (8 February) after he pleaded guilty to a charge of stealing two sets of 15 of such vouchers belonging to two neighbours with a total value of $300.
The voucher scheme was aimed at helping less well-off Singaporeans with their household expenses due to the economic difficulties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Those eligible would each receive an envelope containing 15 vouchers worth a total of $150.
About a week before 9 October last year, Zamri’s girlfriend received her vouchers in the letterbox of Zamri’s house. The couple then bought household items with the vouchers. Zamri later received his own set of vouchers.
On 9 October, Zamri went to check his letter box at the void deck of a block at Aljunied Crescent as he was expecting a delivery. After closing his letter box, he saw that a letter box belonging to two of his neighbours was not closed properly.
Zamri tapped the letter box intending to open it and find some grocery vouchers. He rifled through the letters and saw two white envelopes with the words “On Government Service”.
As he had received a similar letter, Zamri knew that these letters contained the vouchers. He pocketed the two envelopes, which were addressed to the two neighbours.
While at home, Zamri opened the envelopes and saw 15 pieces of $10 vouchers in each. He noticed that the vouchers had serial numbers and that the moment he used them, he would get caught.
He then decided to use his own vouchers first. He was traced after his girlfriend used the vouchers at an NTUC outlet on 12 October.
Police officers trawled CCTV footage and traced his girlfriend to Zamri’s house. When his girlfriend next went to the NTUC outlet to use another two vouchers, the vouchers were rejected. A total of 24 vouchers were recovered at Zamri’s house. It is unclear if his girlfriend is under separate investigation in relation to her boyfriend’s offences.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Selene Yap sought a short jail term for Zamri, telling the court the difficulties that the authorities faced in detecting such cases and nabbing culprits.
“It is actually very easy for the accused to commit such offences in public places. A clear message has to be sent to deter them from depriving needy people of grocery vouchers that they may well need immediately,” said DPP Yap.
In mitigation, Zamri pleaded for a light sentence and apologised to the court. He added that he had apologised to his two neighbours.
For theft, he could have been jailed up to three years, or a fine, or both.
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