Friday 23 January 2015

Serial litterbug sees $19,800 go up in smoke

Fined after he threw cigarette butts out of window 34 times over 4 days
By Audrey Tan, The Straits Times, 22 Jan 2015

A 38-YEAR-OLD smoker who chucked his cigarette butts out of his flat window instead of throwing them in the dustbin has been fined $19,800, the highest amount levied on a high-rise litterbug here.

The man will also have to spend five hours doing corrective work.

He was nabbed after surveillance cameras caught him in the act. Such electronic eyes are being used increasingly by the National Environment Agency (NEA) in its war against offenders.

Over four days in March last year, the man, who was not named, had littered 34 times, repeatedly throwing cigarette butts out of his unit at Block 224C, Compassvale Walk, in Sengkang, NEA said yesterday.

Despite feedback from residents, the problem had persisted. Butts were thrown even after NEA officers staked out the area, and the town council and grassroots organisations made rounds to educate residents.

The culprit was identified with the help of surveillance cameras which were installed, NEA said.

In September last year, the man was fined $600 per charge for 33 charges, and sentenced to five hours of corrective work for one charge.

First-time offenders can be fined up to $2,000 and/or face a corrective work order of up to 12 hours for each offence.

Complaints about high-rise littering are increasing. The NEA received 2,500 cases of feedback about it last year, up from the 1,600 in 2013.

But enforcement efforts have also been ramped up, with more surveillance cameras being deployed in areas where complaints persist.

Last year, cameras were deployed at 600 locations.

In 2013, they were only in about 500 places.

"In most cases, the situation improved following outreach and education efforts by the NEA, the town councils and grassroots organisations," the agency said.

The NEA took action against offenders caught throwing high- rise litter, such as tissue paper and food waste, 206 times last year, compared with 458 times in 2013.

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