A 34-year-old man who stole $10,600 worth of milk powder from supermarkets islandwide over an eight-month period was jailed for four months yesterday.
Chan Yik Kee, who is unemployed, admitted to three of 10 counts of theft of three cans of Gain IQ EyeQ Plus Stage 3 milk powder, each costing $89.90, at a Giant supermarketlast month.
He also admitted to dishonest misappropriation of 170 cans of milk powder worth nearly $8,000 between last June and this March.
The price of infant milk powder has skyrocketed over the last decade, increasing 120 per cent to $56.06 on average for a 900g tin.
A spokesman for Dairy Farm, which runs the Cold Storage, Giant and Jasons MarketPlace supermarkets, had said that milk powder is one of the most commonly stolen items due to its high resale value.
Last month, housewife Noris Ithnin, 37, was given four months' jail for stealing 80 tins of milk powder from supermarkets.
She had been doing this for about 1½ years, including twice while out on bail. The value of the stolen milk powder was $5,676.
In Chan's case, the court heard that he went to Giant supermarket in Turf Club Road at about 12.15pm on March 5 and stole the milk powder on three separate occasions by placing them into his bag and walking out of the premises without paying. Each can of milk powder cost $90.
He admitted stealing the milk powder because he wanted to sell them for cash, as he needed money for his personal expenses.
But he did not manage to sell many, and stored the unsold products at his home at Sixth Avenue Residences.
Giant's duty loss prevention officer lodged a police report the next day, stating that an unknown man had been captured on closed-circuit television cameras stealing milk cans from its outlet at The Grandstand.
Police arrested Chan at his home on March 20 and seized 170 cans of milk powder, worth $7,951.
In his written mitigation plea, Chan, who has two young daughters, said he was remorseful. He said he had lost his job around the time he committed the offences.
He had been selling insurance and had to resign because he could not meet his quota.
District Judge May Mesenas backdated his sentence to his remand on March 22.
Chan could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined for each charge of theft. For dishonest misappropriation, the maximum punishment is two years' jail and a fine.