Police warn open-plan banks as robberies rise

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 October, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 October, 2001, 12:00am

Police yesterday warned that robbers were targeting banks with 'customer friendly' open counters as they revealed bank robberies in Kowloon West had already reached double the total there for the whole of last year.

Twelve banks have been robbed this year in Tsim Sha Tsui, Mongkok, Yau Ma Tei, Shamshuipo and Kowloon City, compared to just six last year. Many of the banks targeted this year had open counters.

Senior Superintendent David Ip Wai-keung, of Kowloon West regional crime unit, said the force's Crime Prevention Bureau had liaised with open-plan banks over security, but refused to detail improvements that had been suggested. 'It is very easy for robbers to approach and threaten staff and ask for money in banks with an open-counter design. They can jump over the counter and snatch money,' he said.

Mr Ip said police had stepped up street patrols and plain-clothes officers had also been deployed.

A 34-year-old man suspected of robbing seven banks of between $50,000 and $60,000 was arrested yesterday morning in the Mongkok restaurant where he worked.

The arrest came a fortnight after he was believed to have snatched $2,000 from a bank in Shamshuipo, leaving a toy gun behind.

Four of the robberies took place in Shamshuipo, Yau Ma Tei and Wan Chai since July.