Six months jail for nurse who stole colleagues’ debit cards from changing room
A 38-year-old nurse at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital stole her colleagues’ debit cards in a staff changing room and later used them to pay the bill at a hotpot restaurant and to buy bird’s nest.
On Thursday, Yong Pei Yoong was jailed for six months after pleading guilty to three cheating charges and one charge of theft in dwelling. She asked that the sentence be deferred for a month to give her time to resign from her job and settle personal matters.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Koh Yi Wen said that on March 24, the first victim, a medical sales representative at Johnson & Johnson, headed inside a female changing room to change into surgery scrubs before entering an operating theatre.
The changing room is also used for hospital staff to store their items and is only open to them. The victim was led into the changing room by a staff.
As the victim was a visitor and was not assigned any lockers in the changing room, she left her bag containing her wallet in an open cupboard there as she worked in the operating theatre from 2.45 pm to 5 pm.
Yong saw the victim’s unattended bag and took a debit card from the wallet.
At around 6.50 pm, Yong used the card to buy three bottles of bird’s nest with ginseng worth $138 at a shop in Novena Square. Two days later, Yong used it to buy various food items worth $101.57 from a hotpot steamboat restaurant in Cross Street. She then threw the debit card in a dustbin.
On April 5, Yong took a debit card belonging to another nurse from the same changing room. She used it that same day to buy bird’s nest with ginseng worth $158.40 from a shop in Northpoint City. Shortly after, she threw the debit card away.
Both victims informed the police after they realised their debit cards were missing and unauthorised transactions had been made using the cards.
Seeking between six months and nine months in jail, DPP Koh said that Yong’s offences were largely committed in an opportunistic manner and that she had voluntarily stopped offending before her arrest.
Yong, who was not represented, said in mitigation: “I want to apologise for what I have done. At that time, I was having a mental breakdown and was traumatised by my previous experience.”
When District Judge James Elisha Lee asked what she meant, Yong said her belongings were stolen five years ago when the hotel room she was staying in was broken into. “(So when I saw the debit cards), I don’t know what happened to me, I just broke down... I didn’t know what to do at that time.”
After handing down the sentence, District Judge Lee told Yong to turn over a new leaf and warned her not to commit offences of any nature in the future.
A spokesman for Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital told The Straits Times that Yong was suspended immediately after the incident.
The spokesman, who added that she started working at the hospital in 2018, said: “It is regrettable that she has now been found to have fallen short of the standards expected of all our employees and will have to face further disciplinary action.”