Man destroyed NEA-deployed camera he thought was eyeing him

A man's hand holding a hammer. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
A man's hand holding a hammer. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Believing that the National Environment Agency (NEA) had installed a surveillance camera near his flat to monitor him, a 60-year-old man with a history of throwing paper and a bag full of urine from his flat destroyed it with a hammer.

Boo Hwa Boon, a Singaporean, was jailed for three months on Tuesday (5 October) after he pleaded guilty to committing mischief through an act which causes disruption to the performance of the duty of a public agency. He was also ordered to pay compensation of $1,157, which is the cost of the MobiCam camera.

MobiCam cameras, which belong to OneBerry Technologies, have been deployed by the NEA to capture incidents of high-rise littering in residential areas. If such acts were captured, NEA would follow up with the appropriate agencies for enforcement action.

Boo had committed high-rise littering previously by throwing items such as used paper and a plastic bag with urine from a high floor.

On 3 August last year, at or about 1.58pm, Boo went to the vicinity of Block 383 Bukit Batok West Avenue 5 and forcefully pulled the metal structure of the MobiCam to the ground out of anger as he assumed he was being monitored. He then kicked the camera of the structure a few times with his leg.

When the camera was detached from its metal stand, Boo took it to a nearby carpark where he used a hammer, which he had brought along with him, to smash the camera. He then left the piece at the carpark and returned home.

At around the same time, OneBerry informed NEA that it was unable to view live footage from the targeted MobiCam.

A few hours later, a contractor from OneBerry visited the area and found what was left of the MobiCam lying across a grass patch. The top portion of the MobiCam, comprising a camera and lens, was also missing. A police report was lodged.

OneBerry sent its staff to replace the MobiCam on the same day, and the camera was in operation from 6.03pm. The total amount of time when there was no live footage was four hours and five minutes.

According to OneBerry, it could replace the camera quickly as it had spare units in storage. If not, the firm would have had to order a camera from Germany and as such would typically take around two to three weeks to operate a replacement unit.

In a mitigation, Boo said that his son suffered from an intellectual disability.

The prosecution sought at least three months’ jail for Boo, who had displayed premeditation in his destruction of the MobiCam.

For committing mischief which causes disruption to the performance of duty of a public agency, Boo could have been jailed up to 10 years, or fined, or both.

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