SINGAPORE, Oct 18 — The police have, over the past six days, arrested or investigated more than 24 persons suspected to have stolen grocery vouchers issued by the government to lower-income households, with 14 more caught in the latest round of arrests.
In a statement issued in the early hours of yesterday, the police said that all these cases are unrelated and opportunistic in nature.
The 14 new suspects are aged between 16 and 67 and they allegedly struck at various public housing blocks around the island.
Besides these, the police are also investigating another 70-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman for their suspected involvement in separate cases of dishonestly misappropriating the Budget 2020 grocery vouchers.
On Friday, two Singaporeans, Miqhael Wahyudean Abdullah, 24, and Irwani Nur Amira Azami, 23, were charged with stealing the vouchers. They were among seven people arrested over the past week for the offence.
The grocery vouchers were mailed to 150,000 Singaporeans aged 21 and above those year who are living in one-room and two-room Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats, to help with their household expenses during this Covid-19 crisis.
Each eligible recipient is given grocery vouchers worth S$150 (RM458) in October, another S$150 worth of vouchers in December and vouchers valued at S$100 in October next year.
The operation to apprehend the perpetrators involved several police divisions islandwide.
Central Police Division
Three teenagers, a male aged 17 and two females aged 16 and 18, were arrested on October 15 at residential blocks along Maude Road and Kitchener Road. The trio will be charged on October 17 with theft with common intention.
Clementi Police Division
Two men, aged 54 and 61, were nabbed on October 15 at a housing block along Lengkok Bahru near Redhill. Investigations are ongoing.
Tanglin Police Division
The police arrested a 24-year-old man on October 15 at a housing block along Lower Delta Road near River Valley.
A 46-year-old man and a 43-year-old woman were also arrested for alleged theft at a housing block along Lorong 1 Toa Payoh. Investigations are ongoing.
Ang Mo Kio Police Division
A 53-year-old woman was caught on October 15 at a housing block along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1.
The woman’s daughter, a 28-year-old, was also arrested for allegedly using the vouchers after knowing that they had been stolen. Investigations are ongoing.
Bedok Police Division
A 43-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman were nabbed on October 15 at a housing block along Aljunied Crescent. Investigations are ongoing.
Jurong Police Division
The police arrested a 43-year-old man on October 15 at a housing block along Jalan Kayu in Sengkang.
A 34-year-old woman was also arrested along Kim Tian Place near Tiong Bahru.
Two other separate cases, a 70-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, are being investigated for dishonestly misappropriating the vouchers at housing blocks along Choa Chu Kang Avenue 7 and Choa Chu Kang Street 51 respectively. Investigations are ongoing.
Woodlands Police Division
A 67-year-old man was caught on October 16 at a housing block along Marsiling Road. Investigations are ongoing.
Still more to investigate
The police said that they have also received reports of similar incidents in other residential areas and are investigating these cases with a view to apprehend the culprits.
They also said that anyone who spots any suspicious person loitering near letterboxes at HDB estates should call the police immediately.
Those who suspect that their vouchers have been stolen are advised to make a police report and call the grocery voucher hotline at 1800-2222-888 to ask that the vouchers be voided and replaced. Voided vouchers cannot be redeemed.
The police reminded those getting the vouchers to collect them as soon as possible and to ensure that their letterbox is always secured.
If convicted of theft, an offender could be jailed up to three years or fined, or both.
For assisting in the disposal of stolen property, a person may be jailed up to five years or fined, or both.
For dishonest misappropriation of property, the maximun penalty is a two-year jail term or a fine, or both. —TODAY