System engineer jailed 42 months for stealing over $351,000 worth of network equipment

SINGAPORE - A system engineer who stole more than $351,000 worth of backup network components from KK Women's and Children's Hospital was on Monday sentenced to 42 months' jail.

Michael Lin Weihong, 31, admitted to four charges of theft in dwelling, with seven others taken into consideration.

He committed the offences between Feb 20 and May 5 last year, shortly after his former employer Integrated Health Information System sent him to the hospital to help upgrade the existing network connectivity infrastructure.

Using the same modus operandi each time, Lin would delink and disconnect the main network system from the backup components with his work ID. He then physically removed backup parts such as network switches.

When the removal of backup components triggered an alarm, Lin would respond and report that it was a false alarm.

To cover up the thefts, he also volunteered to do routine checks on the network components in KK Hospital and reported to principal engineer Lim Kock Tuan that nothing was amiss.

Mr Lim only realised network components were missing when he did a maintenance round on May 7, 2014. A check on the electronic system logs turned up Lin's ID performing a deactivation programme.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Chee Ee Ling cited the large value of the stolen network components, the high level of premeditation, and Lin's betrayal of his employer's trust as aggravating factors. He also noted the importance of the stolen items to the hospital's operations and its ability to facilitate patient care.

In mitigation, Lin's lawyer, Mr M. Lukshumayeh, said his client was remorseful, had helped recover 34 of the 65 stolen items and also admitted to the thefts immediately when confronted. He added that Lin had been under pressure due to his debts with banks and loan sharks.

For each charge of theft in dwelling, Lin could have been fined and jailed for up to seven years.

andreang@sph.com.sg