Thieves foiled by seat covers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 November, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 November, 2000, 12:00am

Chair covers designed to stop pickpockets in restaurants have helped the credit-card industry save at least $1 million a month, it was revealed yesterday.

The navy-blue covers allow diners to cover handbags and jackets, according to Senior Inspector Sherman Chow Chuen-hoi of the police Crime Prevention Bureau.

He said 1,000 covers had been given to about 50 restaurants on Hong Kong Island when an anti-pickpocketing campaign kicked off in May.

'The loss the industry suffered due to stolen credit cards has reduced by about 40 per cent in the third quarter compared to the same period last year, and the amount involved was about $1 million a month,' said Terence Mak Cheuk-ming of MasterCard International.

Mr Mak said the industry lost about $10 million during the first four months this year. About 60 per cent of stolen credit cards were taken from restaurants.

David Ng Tak-leung, chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants & Related Trades, said some pickpocketing was carried out by gangs - a man, a woman and two children, who pose as families in restaurants. 'Two children are first sent to play around their targeted persons and bump them. The couple posing as their parents offer help and then steal the wallets,' he said.