SINGAPORE - To satisfy his sick sexual urges, he would steal school uniforms and later masturbate.
Between 2012 and this year, Tony Tan Tong Li, 17, stole 14 sets of school uniforms, 10 skirts and five school T-shirts worth at least $500.
He soon grew bolder and molested two young girls, a nine-year-old and an 11-year-old.
The minimarket storekeeper pleaded guilty yesterday to one count each of outrage of modesty, theft and fraudulent possession of a bicycle.
Nine other charges, including another count of molestation and seven counts of theft, will be taken into consideration during sentencing on Aug 29.
Tan is the third child molester to face justice this week.
In unrelated cases, two others, Lee Kia Kit, 48 and Teo Koon Tian, 57, were jailed on Thursday for the same offence.
On March 12, last year, Tan approached a nine-year-old girl in Hougang at around 3pm and asked her to help him carry some newspapers.
When she refused, he grabbed her shoulder and led her to the second-storey staircase landing of a nearby block of flats.
He covered her eyes with his palm and was trying to unzip his trousers when she shouted for help.
He quickly zipped up and ran away. The girl told her father about her ordeal and he made a police report.
On Jan 16, Tan went to a block of flats in Hougang at around 12.20pm and spotted a girl's school uniform and physical education T-shirt hanging outside a flat.
He took these items, which were worth $32, and quickly left the scene.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Stephanie Koh said yesterday that this incident was captured on a closed-circuit television camera belonging to one of the girl's neighbours.
DPP Koh said that Tan had admitted to walking around the corridors of HDB blocks in Hougang looking for school uniforms that had been hung out to dry.
Steal & throw
He would steal the items and throw them away after satisfying his sexual urges.
Tan molested his second victim on March 27, the court heard.
An 11-year-old girl was walking home with a friend in the same neighbourhood at around 2pm that day when he approached the pair while riding a bicycle.
Using the same ruse, he asked them if they could help him carry some newspapers and they agreed to assist him.
The victim ended up alone with him as her friend was walking too slowly behind them.
Tan took the victim to a staircase landing and molested her.
After pushing his hand away, she told him that she needed to look for her friend and quickly left.
She burst into tears the moment she saw her friend and told her what had happened. A passer-by saw the girl crying and contacted her school. A school staff member informed the police at around 2.20pm that day.
Tan was arrested on April 2 and his bicycle was seized.
Pressing for him to be sent to a reformative training centre, DPP Koh told District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan that Tan's offences had escalated over time.
Those sent for reformative training have to spend between 18 months and three years under a strict regimen which includes foot drills and counselling.
But his lawyer, Mr Choo Si Sen, asked the judge to call for a probation report, stressing that his client is young and can be rehabilitated.
Tan will be back in court on Aug 29.
For outrage of modesty, he can be jailed up to five years, fined, caned, or receive any combination of these punishments.
This article was first published on Aug 9, 2014.
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