Man who stole nine bonsai plants worth $12,400 in Jurong jailed for 12 months

Teo Tiong Guan, 51, stole nine Bonsai plants worth $12,400 over a one-month period and was jailed for 12 months.
Teo Tiong Guan, 51, stole nine Bonsai plants worth $12,400 over a one-month period and was jailed for 12 months. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A 51-year-old man, who stole nine Bonsai plants worth $12,400 over a one-month period last year because he found them beautiful, was on Wednesday (Feb 24) jailed for 12 months.

Teo Tiong Guan pleaded guilty to two charges of house trespass.

He admitted to two other counts of the same, and a charge of theft. These were considered during sentencing.

A district court heard that on May 14 last year, Teo was walking past Yuhua Community Centre when he saw several bonsai plants kept in the Bonsai Garden there.

He went back to the garden three days later, at about 3.30pm, to steal two pots of the plants, worth $2,000 each.

The gate to the garden was locked, so he reached over the surrounding brick wall to get at the plant.

He transferred both plants from their pots into plastic bags he had brought along, and put the pots back into the garden.

Back at home, Teo planted the plants in his own pots.

Two days later, at about 3am on May 19, Teo stole another bonsai plant worth $300 from an 11th floor unit at Block 261, Jurong East Street 21.

Close to midnight that day, he also went back to the Yuhua Community Centre garden to steal two other bonsai plants, worth $3,500 in total.

Later that night, Teo also saw some bonsai plants at the Residents' Corner Garden on the ground floor beside Block 223A, Jurong East Street 21.

But the garden was locked, so he went home to fetch a metal-cutting tool.

At around 2am the next morning, he cut open the padlock on the door of the garden and plucked two adenium plants (from the bonsai family) worth $300 each.

He placed the two plants into plastic bags he had brought along and took them home.

On June 15, Teo again stole two more bonsai plants from the Yuhua Community Centre garden.

He displayed all his stolen bonsai plants in his own pots at home.

For house tresspass to commit theft, Teo, who who has a string of convictions for theft dating back to 1981, could have been jailed for seven years and fined.

For theft, he could have been jailed for three years and fined.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, and Yuhua MP Grace Fu said in a Facebook post on Wednesday (Feb 24) that Teo's "acts have caused much anxiety and distress on the community".

She added that "the sense of intrusion of privacy and infringement of security was upsetting", and she is saddened by the actions of the resident.