Jobless man jailed for tearing open nearly 500 items in supermarkets out of frustration

SINGAPORE: After being released on remission for similar offences of theft and mischief, a repeat offender felt frustrated as he could not find a job.

To relieve his stress, he went to various supermarkets around Singapore, where he ripped open packets of snacks with his hands and slashed open bags of rice with a blade.

Ng Peng Soon, a 51-year-old Singaporean, was sentenced to 22 months’ jail on Friday (Dec 15), with an additional 210 days for breaching remission.

He pleaded guilty to eight charges of theft and mischief, with another six charges taken into consideration.

The court heard that Ng has been in and out of jail since 1994. 

Most recently, he was sentenced to 34 months’ jail in 2021 for similar offences.

When Ng was released from jail on remission in September 2022, he stole a box of toothpaste from retailer Watsons, said Mr Ryan David Lim, his lawyer from the Public Defender’s Office (PDO).

He also stole a bra from a supermarket in Tampines, placing it in his pocket before walking out.

In July 2023, Ng went to various supermarkets, including the Giant supermarket at Suntec City, the FairPrice Xtra outlet at Nex shopping mall and an NTUC FairPrice outlet in Bedok North.

He used his hands to rip open hundreds of packets of snacks such as candies, potato chips and chocolates, and used a penknife to cut open packets of rice.

Various supermarket staff members noticed the damaged goods during stock-taking and lodged police reports.

The highest number of snacks Ng “rendered unsellable” was 100 at the Nex supermarket on Jul 16, while he opened 50 packets of rice in one sitting at Jurong Point’s supermarket on Jul 19, the court heard.

In total, he opened 294 packets of snacks and 202 packets of rice, causing losses of about S$5,800 to the supermarkets involved.

Ng was arrested on Jul 20 and has been remanded since.


On Friday, State Prosecuting Officer Ng Chee Wee said Ng was liable to enhanced sentences since he had breached his conditional remission orders.

He also has a long string of convictions since 1994, with his most recent three convictions in 2015, 2018 and 2021 for similar offences of theft and mischief.

Ng was handed 18, 23 and 34 months’ jail on those respective occasions, with the jail terms increasing each time.

In total, the prosecution sought about 18 months’ jail, asking the court to apply a further uplift at its own discretion, as well as additional jail for breaching remission.

He said Ng was undeterred despite his previous incarceration.


PDO lawyer Mr Lim asked for no more than 16 months’ jail and an additional term for breaching remission.

“Mr Ng is 51 years old,” said the lawyer. “When he was young, he failed PSLE twice and studied up to Primary 8.”

He said Ng was assessed to have a borderline IQ of 77.

He cited a report from the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), which showed Ng had “poor frustration tolerance”, which manifests in a coping mechanism where he opens food packaging to feel better.

Mr Lim said Ng took a box of toothpaste the day after being released from prison in September 2022.

There were no more offences until about nine months later in May 2023, when Ng had difficulty securing employment.

Frustrated, Ng committed the remainder of his offences, said the lawyer.

He argued against a higher jail term, saying that “simply put, a lesson conveyed by increasingly hefty punishment can only be learnt if the accused is capable of learning”.

He said Ng was not such a person.

The judge said the IMH report did not exactly support the defence’s arguments, as the report stated Ng did not have any mental illness or intellectual disability, and there was no contributory link between any condition and the offences.

Mr Lim responded that Ng’s conviction record and the fact that the prosecution said Ng was undeterred shows that long imprisonment terms do not deter Ng.

“In fact, IMH has said that he’s likely to reoffend,” said Mr Lim.

He said he had spoken to Ng about which agencies he could approach for help, including for obtaining psychotherapy, so Ng “knows what to do when he comes out”.

The public defender also spoke to Ng’s sister, who said she would make sure Ng attended his psychotherapy sessions.

“Mr Ng wants to get better,” concluded Mr Lim. “He doesn’t want to come before the court again.”

The judge declined to order compensation from Ng, noting that he did not have the necessary financial means to do so.

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