SINGAPORE - A teenager who took a stolen bus for a joyride for 45 minutes had stolen two other buses earlier this year, a court heard.
A Community Court heard that Muhammad Salahuddin Omar, who is deaf and cannot speak, was out on police bail when he committed the latest theft at Woodlands Industrial Park E8 on March 8.
The 17-year-old, who has been in remand for two months as no one bailed him out, admitted to vehicle theft, driving below the age of 18, and doing so without insurance cover.
An employee of the company AZ Bus discovered the vehicle missing that afternoon. He informed the company's operations executive Toh Hoe Kok, who tracked the bus via the Global Positioning System and found it was travelling along Kian Teck Road in Jurong.
Mr Toh asked an employee to follow the bus, which did not stop when approached.
Via his mobile phone, Mr Toh tracked the bus moving along Ayer Rajah Expressway, Jurong Town Hall Road, Boon Lay Way and Jurong Pier Road, going in circles.
He decided to go after the bus in his own car. He spotted it at Bukit Batok Avenue 6 and stopped the bus by driving in front of it near Bukit Batok Central.
Investigations showed that Salahuddin's father had noticed that his son had shown a keen interest in public transportation for about a year, and would attend transportation-related exhibitions with his elder brother. He would also play computer games related to buses.
Salahuddin went to the Woodlands Industrial Park E8 that day to steal a bus for a "joyride", picking an automatic model which was easier to drive.
Earlier, District Judge Mathew Joseph had wanted to know why the youth was kept in custody. His father explained that he had not wanted to bail him out, so he would not commit more offences.
The father, who had felt ashamed when the police turned up at his door, said it was hard for him to control the youth and felt it was best for the "law to take him" for what he had done.
In mitigation, Salahuddin pleaded for one last chance through a sign interpreter and said he wished to continue with his studies.
Judge Joseph postponed sentencing to June 4, pending probation and Reformative Training Centre reports.