SINGAPORE: A man has been arrested after attempting to collect free masks from vending machines 61 times using illegally obtained personal information, said the Singapore Police Force (SPF) on Sunday (Mar 14).
The 38-year-old eventually managed to collect 11 masks from vending machines at Bukit Panjang Plaza and along Bishan Street 22, said SPF.
The police received a report on Saturday morning that a victim was unable to collect his mask from a vending machine at Pasir Ris East Community Centre.
Temasek Foundation, which set up the vending machines, also lodged a report on the same day after it received several complaints from people who were unable to collect their masks.
Using footage from police cameras and closed-circuit television cameras fixed in the vending machines, police officers established the man's identity. He was arrested within 24 hours, said SPF.
If found guilty of cheating, he faces up to 10 years' jail and a fine. For keeping illegally obtained personal information, he could be jailed up to three years, fined up to S$10,000, or both.
Two women are also separately being investigated for illegally collecting masks from vending machines, the police said on Friday.
One of them allegedly collected more than 20 face masks from vending machines in Pasir Ris.
SPF said it has received similar reports in other estates and are "intensifying" their efforts to arrest the perpetrators.
"If you spot any suspicious person loitering near any reusable masks vending machines, please contact the police at 999 immediately," it added.
In a Facebook post on Sunday, Temasek Holdings CEO Ho Ching said that a Temasek Foundation team works "very closely" with SPF to address issues of theft.
She also explained why residents are able to collect the masks by manually keying in their identity card numbers.
"There are pros and cons, and on balance the team decided to continue with the convenience of allowing folks to key in their NRIC," she wrote.
"This enabled neighbours, friends, families and employers to help collect from others."