Search for gunmen after shots fired in $1m jewellery store raid

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2001, 12:00am

Police are searching for three gunmen who fired two shots during a lightning raid on a Mongkok jewellery store yesterday, before escaping with more than $1 million worth of watches.

The trio, armed with pistols, fired into a showcase in the store owned by Hale Winner Ltd, on the ground floor of the Pioneer Centre in Nathan Road, during the 3.45pm robbery.

A staff member said one of the men was also carrying what appeared to be a grenade.

Police sources said the shots cracked the bulletproof glass of the showcase, but failed to smash it. The robbers then forced staff to hand over the watches at gunpoint.

Kowloon West Senior Superintendent Ip Wai-keung said the men escaped with luxury-brand watches, including Piaget and Corum.

'They stayed there for only around half a minute,' Mr Ip said. 'I believe this was an organised and calculated crime.'

Police believe the robbers were armed with Chinese military Black Star pistols, a 7.62mm calibre semi-automatic. Ballistics experts were checking whether the guns matched any used in other recent crimes.

A police source said the target of the raid had been carefully chosen, as the shop presented the robbers with three escape routes.

Shoppers were evacuated from the scene and surrounding streets as police officers in bulletproof vests combed the area, although no trace was found of the trio. Streets were closed off until 6.40pm.

The three men were believed to be in their 20s or 30s. Two of them wore jackets. The other was described as wearing a T-shirt and a baseball cap.

Officers from the Identification Bureau and the Police Tactical Unit were sent to the scene, along with a police dog handler.

Officers were reviewing closed-circuit TV recordings from the centre. However, Mr Ip refused to say whether the robbers' faces had been captured on tape. No one was hurt during the robbery.

Mr Ip said the men spoke fluent Cantonese.

The robbery comes after police constables Sze Kwan-ming, 28, and Lai Chi-wai, 38, were shot and wounded during an anti-burglary operation in Yau Ma Tei on May 22.

On March 14, Constable Leung Shing-yan, 23, was shot dead with his service revolver at Shek Wai Kok Estate in Tsuen Wan after receiving a bogus noise-complaint call.

Graphic: PION26GET


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