SINGAPORE: Over several weeks, residents at a Housing Board block started missing items of clothing such as underwear and jeans. When the police installed a pinhole camera outside one of the victim's flats, they captured the thief hiding his face under an umbrella and forcibly pulling out the camera.
The police pieced together video footage from multiple police cameras and identified the thief as an air-conditioner technician who lived in that block.
He was arrested and more than 50 clothing items including 19 pairs of panties were found in his room. He would wear the undergarments while engaging in sex acts.
Malaysian Ng Weng Cheong, 38, was given nine months and one week's jail on Thursday (Mar 18) and ordered to pay S$95 in compensation for the damaged camera.
He pleaded guilty to three charges of theft, mischief and house-breaking, with another two charges considered in sentencing.
The court heard that Ng started stealing clothes from his neighbours in April 2020.
In particular, he visited one flat three times at night to steal women's clothing as he fancied one of the women he had seen staying there.
He stretched his hand through the main gate to steal bras, panties and pants hanging on a pole suspended between the gate and a window grille.
The police received several reports about clothing theft at the block between Sep 23 and Oct 13 last year. After the spate of thefts, the police installed a pinhole camera outside one of the victim's flat in a bid to catch the thief.
The camera captured a person outside the flat on Dec 2, 2020, at about 12.50am. He hid his face under an umbrella and forcibly pulled out the pinhole camera, but leaving the digital video recorder box undamaged.
An investigation officer reviewed video footage from several police cameras in the area and identified Ng as the serial thief. He was arrested on Dec 16, 2020.
For housebreaking to commit theft, he could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined. He could have been jailed up to three years, fined, or both for theft, while the offence of mischief carries a maximum jail term of two years and a fine.