A former engineer with the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) was fined $4,000 on Wednesday for stealing a $1,800 laptop that belonged to the agency.
On September 6 last year, Lee Kian Heng noticed that the HP Elitebook, issued three days earlier to his colleague to use on projects, was unattended and unsecured by a cable wire. He walked past his colleague's desk twice before deciding to steal it.
Lee, 33, later reformatted the laptop so he could use it, deleting data classified as "Restricted", said court documents.
Defence lawyer Louis Joseph said Lee, who was sacked by DSTA the following month, had taken what "looked like a shiny object" in a moment of "unbelievable stupidity". Lee took the laptop for personal use and had no intention of selling it, added Mr Joseph.
The maximum penalty for theft is a jail term of three years and a fine.