SINGAPORE — A bus driver who stole a private bus for a joyride after returning home from a 10-hour shift was fined $3,000 on Tuesday (17 August).
Yow Hong Wang, 42, had felt the urge to steal the bus - which is worth $55,000 - from the heavy vehicle carpark near his home in Woodlands.
However the urge abated as quickly as it had come, Yow’s lawyer Genesa Tan told the court, as he drove the bus to another heavy vehicle carpark in Bukit Batok before returning it to its original spot.
Yow pleaded guilty to one count of theft, with one count of driving the vehicle without third-party insurance taken into consideration for his sentencing.
The bus he stole belonged to another bus driver who worked under 3S Transport, a company that provides private bus transport services. Yow did not work for this company.
Captured by CCTV cameras in bus
On 26 August last year, the 3S Transport bus driver parked his bus along the heavy vehicle carpark along Woodlands Road, opposite West View Primary School, at around 8.17pm. He secured the bus and left for home.
A while later, an operations manager from 3S Transport was informed by another company staff that a person was spotted driving the bus, and he was neither the designated bus driver nor employed by the company.
The operations manager proceeded to check CCTV footage installed within the bus. The CCTV camera would be activated when the engine of the bus was turned on.
Yow was captured by the camera pointing at the driver’s seat at 11.12pm. At 12.01am, he was seen covering the CCTV camera with a piece of white tissue paper.
The Global Position System (GPS) device installed on the bus showed that it was driven from Woodlands to another carpark at Bukit Batok, before returning to the original carpark.
Yow was traced back to his residence and arrested.
Said to be suffering from kleptomania
Yow admitted to entering the bus by pushing open the hydraulic door and started the engine with the keys in the side of the driver’s seat.
Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP) Lydia Goh asked for a high fine but left the amount to court. She noted that Yow had compensated the victim with $1,000, and had tendered a letter of apology. He was also traced for theft-related offences in 1995 and 2004.
Yow's lawyer Tan asked for a fine of no more than $2,000. According to a psychiatric report of Yow, he was suffering from kleptomania at the time of the offence which was deemed by a private psychiatrist to have contributed to the offence .
Since then, the man has been seeking counselling to treat his condition and has been responding well, said the lawyer.
"(My client) just worked a 10 hour shift on the same day. He returned home and noticed buses parked in a carpark near his house and was overcome by a strong urge to go on a joy ride and that led to the commission of the offence," said Tan.
"However this urge abated as quickly as it had come, and he retuned the bus within an hour. This urge was borne out of kleptomania and his psychiatric condition."
In response, APP Goh said that a report from the Institute of Mental Health did not state that Yow had kleptomania or any other mental illness that impaired his impulse control. The report instead stated that Yow's actions can be viewed as a maladaptive response to psychological stressors.
District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt considered that Yow had a history of psychiatric conditions, although it did not have a direct causal link to his offence.
"(It) can be viewed as a maladaptive response to his stressors, which is why the prosecution is asking for fine instead of jail term, given his many previous offences of theft," said DJ Chay.
For theft, Yow could have been jailed up to three years, or fined, or both.
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