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Ex-convict goes on vandalism spree at supermarkets

He tears open packages on shelves to vent frustration after failing to land a job. -ST
Khushwant Singh

Thu, Dec 27, 2012
The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - One by one, he ripped open the packages, revealing the goodies inside.

But this was no child eagerly opening his Christmas presents.

Instead, it was an ex-convict vandalising products in a supermarket because he was frustrated that he could not find a job.

In one morning alone, Ng Peng Soon tore open nearly 100 packets of foodstuffs, including pasta and chocolate.

He then walked out of the Cold Storage branch in Tampines, leaving the damaged items on the shelves.

The 40-year-old carried out similar offences on five other occasions, a district court heard.

As a result, three stores in the Tampines area had to write off a total of $656 in losses.

He also stole a $115 bottle of brandy from the Giant Hypermarket.

Ng, who lives in Tampines with his parents, pleaded guilty last Monday to theft and committing mischief.

The bachelor will not be sentenced until Friday, so he can spend Christmas with his family.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nakoorsha Abdul Kadir said Ng told police that he ripped open the packages because he was angry and frustrated that he could not find a job due to his criminal record.

Ng damaged the nearly 100 items on the morning of Nov 29 - costing the store $340.

It was just one of a string of similar offences which began on Sept 18, when he damaged $139 worth of confectionery at the Shop N Save supermarket.

At 11am on Oct 29, he ripped open 18 packets of oats, valued at $79, at the same supermarket.

Then, on the morning of Nov 4, he returned to the store and damaged another eight packets of oats worth a total of $35.

At 3pm the next day, he went to the Sheng Siong Supermarket and ripped open five packets of nuts worth a total of $45.

He struck again at Cold Storage at 10.15am on Dec 5, tearing the wrappers of three bars of chocolates valued at $6 each.

Ng stole the brandy from the Tampines Giant Hypermarket on Oct 18.

Surveillance video showed him removing the bottle from the box, putting it in his backpack and walking out.

He sold it for an undisclosed amount.

Since 2003, he has been jailed six times for theft and damaging items in shops.

His latest offences began shortly after he was released from prison on Sept 4, having served 81/2 months.

Psychiatrist Tommy Tan told The Straits Times that ex-convicts who commit such offences sometimes want to return to prison as they are unable to cope with life on the outside.

"They cannot find jobs and feel bad about relying on their parents or siblings," he said.

For theft, Ng could be jailed for up to seven years and fined up to $10,000.

The maximum sentence for committing mischief is a one-year jail term and a $10,000 fine.

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