Scholarship holder turned bra thief spared jail

SINGAPORE - A scholarship holder who stole people's brassieres was spared jail yesterday, but ordered to undergo psychological treatment for a year.

When Jonathan Peh Song Wee, a 26-year-old research engineer at the Defence Science Organisation, was arrested at his home last Nov 18, police found 228 bras which he could not account for.

Defence lawyer Lee Ping said her client, who was awarded a Defence Science and Technology Agency scholarship in 2007 to do aerospace engineering, had developed a fetish for female underwear when he was in the first and second year of studies. He had a particular liking for sports bras.

He was diagnosed with the condition by an Institute of Mental Health (IMH) psychiatrist only last year, after he was caught.

On Nov 16, Peh unlawfully entered a Temasek Hall hostel block at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and stole a $47 bra at a common corridor.

The next day, the police got a call from Temasek Hall's manager saying an undergarment thief had been caught but got away, leaving behind his identity card. After his arrest, investigations showed he was involved in several such incidents dating back to 2010. The incident that year occurred at Nanyang Technological University, where he was a student.

Last August, Peh stole his neighbour's two Nike sports bras worth $110 hung on a rack along the common corridor of his Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 block.

On Oct 17, he went to Raffles Hall at NUS, where he stole a $50 sports bra from a student.

Peh pleaded guilty to five charges of criminal trespass, theft and fraudulent possession with eight others taken into consideration.

As part of his mandatory treatment order, Peh will continue with psychotherapy.

Mandatory treatment order is one of five community sentences which took effect from 2011. It is aimed at offenders who suffer from a psychiatric condition - the court orders medical treatment of up to two years in lieu of jail time.

Peh's neighbour Rowena Repollo Tampus told The Straits Times last night she had lost five sports bras. Said the maid, 39, who has worked with her employers for 20 years: "I couldn't believe it was him because I have seen him grow up and even attended his birthday party a few years ago."

This article was published on May 16 in The Straits Times.

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