Man gets jail and cane for break-in and theft at columbarium and monastery

Kam Aik Soon was jailed for 3½ years and ordered to be given two strokes of the cane on Friday (April 8).
Kam Aik Soon was jailed for 3½ years and ordered to be given two strokes of the cane on Friday (April 8).PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A 23-year-old man who broke into a Buddhist columbarium and a monastery to steal from donation boxes was jailed for 31/2 years and ordered to be given four strokes of the cane on Friday (April 8).

Kam Aik Soon, a Singapore permanent resident, admitted to two counts of housebreaking and theft of $2,600 with three other similar charges involving $1,000 taken into consideration.

A district court heard that Kam took a bus from Bugis Junction some time after 10pm on Aug 10 last year, and decided to alight along Sims Avenue as there were several places of worship. He decided to steal money from these places as he was running out of cash.

He alighted near Kembangan MRT station and walked around until he saw an open window at Jalan Senyam Buddhist Columbarium.

He scaled over a stone wall and walked to the open window. He then climbed through the window and made his way into a prayer hall in the columbarium by forcing open a sliding wooden door.

He then used a metal fork from his bag to pry open a large wooden donation box. It was midnight when he stole $600 from the donation box and placed them into his haversack.

He used the money for his daily expenses and to pay for his mobile phone bills.

Through further investigations, his DNA was found from a swab on the donation box.

He was arrested at a pub in Orchard Road on Oct 15 last year.

In the second case, the court heard that Kam was at a gaming shop in Upper Bukit Timah some time before 12.40am on Aug 20 when he climbed over a wall fencing and entered Mahabodhi Monastery at Lorong Kilat.

He forced open two donation boxes and stole a total of $2,000.

His act of filling up a paper bag with cash was captured on a closed-circuit television camera in the monastery. He used the money to pay for his phone bills and a fine issued by the National Environment Agency.

Kam had a similar conviction in 2013 and was liable for enhanced punishment.

His Criminal Legal Aid Scheme assigned lawyer, Mr Justin Yu, said Kam had a troubled past and had tough patches in his life. He was adopted at aboutthe age of six after his father with a gambling addiction gave up on him.

Mr Yu said his client's foster parents kicked him out when he was about 18 and, since then, he had been seeking refuge at his friend's home until he was enlisted for national service.

He said Kam committed the offences as he had only $400 to survive on and had accumulated phone bill debts of about $1,300.