SINGAPORE — A National University of Singapore (NUS) undergraduate would sneak into female students’ rooms on campus to steal their underwear.
Pei Shao Bo, 25, was given six weeks’ jail on Monday (4 January) after he pleaded guilty to three counts out of four counts of theft. The remaining theft charge, along with five charges of criminal trespass, were taken into consideration for his sentencing.
The Singaporean final-year student went on the theft spree between 18 January and 19 February last year, targeting a residential block on campus as it was closest to his faculty building.
He had also stayed at the hostel during freshman orientation and was familiar with its location layout. The hostel’s name was redacted from court documents.
“The accused found it thrilling to take such items and reported that he had a fetish for female underwear,” the prosecution told the court.
Pei would keep his loot in a bag at home and use them while masturbating. After soiling some of the undergarments, he would discard them.
The victim, who are in their 20s, cannot be named due to a gag order. None want their undergarments returned to them.
On the first occasion, on 18 January last year, Pei went to the block and entered the room of a woman who had left her room unlocked. He stole a black bra worth $40 to $50, which the victim had kept in her drawer. The woman assumed she lost the bra after she was unable to find it.
Pei stole lingerie from a second victim from her room, located on a females-only level of the block. He stole a bra and two pairs of panties worth a total of $35 from the victim, who only locked her room when she was sleeping. She had not noticed anything amiss when she returned to her room.
A third victim only found that her bra worth $30 to $40 had gone missing after hearing that an unknown male had entered a victim’s room.
She found that the bra, which she had left hanging on the clothes pegs in her room on 7 February last year, may have gone missing. This victim would only lock her room door if she went away for long periods of time.
Pei’s looting came to an end on 8 February, when a fourth victim found him in her room. He did not answer her question on why he was there and managed to flee when she chased him.
She lodged a police report five days later, after reporting the matter to campus security. Security officers managed to trace Pei through CCTV footage.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Kayal Pillay asked for a six-week jail term, considering the value of the items stolen and various other aggravating factors, including how Pei had deliberately trespassed into female students' room to steal their items for personal sexual gratification.
She pointed out that the victims were all young students living away from parents and were supposed to feel safe in their hostel rooms. All victims have since taken the precaution of locking their rooms before leaving.
Pei’s lawyer, Joel Heng, said that his client’s offences were opportunistic as he did not take steps to identify if the hostel rooms were locked or closed at the time. He also cited the stress Pei was facing at the material time as a final-year student, without going into details.
Responding to what Heng had set out in mitigation documents, the DPP said that Pei only appeared sorry over the consequences to himself.
Pei highlighted that he was remorseful that his hard work at NUS has now been overshadowed by his court case, said the DPP.
The fact that Pei’s girlfriend had broken up with him prior to the offences was also not an excuse as it was part and parcel of life.
The DPP rejected the option of probation as inappropriate given that rehabilitation was not the main concern for an adult offender, unless Pei showed a propensity for reform.
In response to media queries from Yahoo News Singapore, an NUS spokesperson said the university takes a serious view of student misconduct and any student who breaches NUS statutes and regulations faces severe sanctions.
A Board of Discipline (BOD) completed its inquiry into Pei’s offences of trespass and theft in June and imposed sanctions on him, including a three-year suspension which will be reflected in his academic transcript, mandatory counselling, and rehabilitation and reconciliation sessions. These sanctions will be placed on his student conduct record with NUS.
Pei is currently serving his suspension. He is also barred from NUS campus premises except when seeking treatment at the University Health Centre (UHC). Although he has completed the academic requirements for his course, he will need to be certified fit by UHC before he can file for graduation.
The students who were affected by this matter have been provided with support and assistance by the Victim Care Unit at NUS, the NUS spokesperson added.
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