A national serviceman has been jailed after repeatedly breaking into Buddhist temples to steal cash from donation boxes when he ran short of money.
Between May and October, Kam Aik Soon, 21, filched a total of $1,200 from four different temples.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of housebreaking and was jailed Monday for 2-1/2 years. Two similar charges were taken into consideration by the judge when passing sentence.
A district court heard that Kam was equipped with tools including a screwdriver, a pair of pliers and a short metal rod. When necessary, he used these tools to gain entry into the premises and force open donation boxes.
He committed his first break-in on May 23. He was on a bus heading back to his army camp when he decided to steal from the Dharma Cakra Society Temple in Jalan Eunos.
He climbed over its fence and got into the temple through an unlocked window.
In all, he took $650 from a cash box in the office and from the donation boxes.
Then on Sept 2, he struck at the Tai Kak Seah Temple after running out of money playing computer games at a LAN gaming shop.
At 2.30am, he climbed over the wall of the temple's compound in Lorong K Telok Kurau and stole a total of $500 from three donation boxes.
A month later, he broke into the Bee Low See Buddhist Temple in Toh Yi Drive.
He forced open a sliding window but could find only $50 in a money pouch in the temple.
At about 2am on Oct 6, he sneaked into the Buddhist Foo Yuen Lim Temple in Jalan Angin Laut in Simei. Not only did he not find any money to steal, but police were also able to track him down and arrest him.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Dwayne Lum informed the court that Kam had been jailed for a week for theft in September last year and had resorted to crime within less than a year of his release from prison.
Pleading for a lenient sentence, Kam, who did not have a lawyer, said that he realised he had made a mistake and was "ready to face the music".
For breaking into a property at night to commit theft, he could have been jailed for between two and 14 years.
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