SINGAPORE: Four men were taken to court in the past week for stealing copper cables or electrical wires from vacant school compounds between January and April this year.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) told CNA on Friday (May 1) that it is aware of the incidents that took place at the former campuses of Tampines Junior College and Jurong Junior College.
The four men accused either of theft with common intention or housebreaking to commit theft are: Singaporean Om Shakti Tiwari, 29, as well as Islam Dwin, 29, Miah Shobus, 30, and Jan Shak Mohabbat, 32, who are from Bangladesh.
They last returned to court on Thursday (Apr 30), with orders to complete investigations and additional charges to be tendered by the next hearing.
According to charge sheets, Islam and Miah stole 210m of copper cable worth S$11,000 from Tampines Junior College at 3.36am on Apr 23.
Islam had also allegedly broken into the same junior college through an opening in the perimeter fencing to steal copper wires in March. He did this with the other two co-accused Om and Jan.
Earlier in the year, Jan and Miah are accused of having stolen electrical wires from Jurong Junior College at 11.30pm on Jan 21, by cutting the wires and leaving with the items belonging to MOE.
A fifth man is also accused of stealing electrical wires belonging to JTC Corporation with Om from a building at 215 Pandan Loop on Jan 17. Bangladeshi Rayhan Masud, 26, is set to have additional charges tendered against him, but court documents so far do not link him with the school thefts.
MOE said in its response to CNA that it has employed contractors to provide maintenance and security services at the former campuses of Tampines Junior College and Jurong Junior College.
The ministry added that both campuses are currently vacant and not in use.
Past reports state that Tampines Junior College has merged with Meridian Junior College to become Tampines Meridian Junior College, moving into the former Meridian Junior College's compounds, while Jurong Junior College merged similarly with Pioneer Junior College.
"During this period of full home-based learning, all school campuses continue to remain open - with the necessary precautionary and safe distancing measures in place – to assist a small number of students who need additional support. The usual security measures in schools also remain in place during this period," said MOE.
Most of the men will return to court next week for their cases to be heard.
For each charge of theft with common intention, the men could face up to seven years' jail and fined.
The penalties for housebreaking to commit an offence are a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine.