Singapore woman admits using fishing hook, sticky tape to steal Budget 2020 grocery vouchers from letterboxes

Asmah Isnin, 34, admitted to three counts of theft involving three victims, including a married couple. — TODAY pic
Asmah Isnin, 34, admitted to three counts of theft involving three victims, including a married couple. — TODAY pic

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SINGAPORE, Jan 16 — A food delivery rider pleaded guilty on Friday (Jan 15) to using an improvised device to steal S$450 (RM1,366) worth of Budget 2020 grocery vouchers from letterboxes.

Asmah Isnin, 34, admitted to three counts of theft involving three victims, including a married couple.

She will return to court on February 19 to be sentenced, as she told District Judge Prem Raj that she has to undergo surgery.

The court heard that Asmah struck twice in a week in October last year, targeting letterboxes at Block 124 Kim Tian Place in Bukit Merah.

The grocery vouchers had been mailed to 150,000 Singaporeans to help with their household expenses. They were announced in the Unity Budget in February last year.

Singaporeans aged 21 and above last year who live in one-room and two-room Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats, and do not own more than one property, were eligible. They got S$150 worth of vouchers in October and S$150 more in December.

Asmah received her own vouchers, but a few days later she started to look for more by peeking through the flaps of other units’ letterboxes.

She saw two sets of vouchers, belonging to a couple who had moved out, in one letterbox.

She used a device comprising a pen, fishing hook and sticky tape to retrieve the vouchers, then spent them.

The couple later called the Health Promotion Board hotline to ask about their vouchers. The agency told them that the vouchers had been sent to their old residential address and had already been used.

Around the same time, Asmah also stole a 57-year-old resident’s vouchers from the same block. When the victim called Tiong Bahru Community Centre to ask about them, she learnt that her vouchers had already been used.

Asmah was arrested on Oct 16 last year after the police identified her through closed-circuit television footage.

She has not made restitution. The victims have since applied to the authorities for replacement vouchers.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Joseph Gwee pointed out that she has several theft convictions dating back to 2005.

For example, in 2015, she was jailed six months for stealing an electric bicycle worth S$1,300.

For the present case, the prosecutor sought at least 10 months’ jail.

“The accused’s antecedent record clearly evinces a pattern of offences without any sign or acknowledgement of contrition or remorse,” he added.

Asmah, who did not have a lawyer, asked to defer her sentence due to her operation and her father’s ill health.

For each theft charge, she could be jailed up to three years or fined, or both. — TODAY

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