Chi-kai, 66, pins down a robber for the second time

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 June, 2005, 12:00am

He's among 40 people recognised for their bravery

Catching thieves is becoming a habit for retired 66-year-old fireman Yan Chi-kai - but he doesn't expect any thanks from the crooks' intended victims.

'It's not a big deal actually,' said Mr Yan who yesterday received a good citizen award from the police for his courageous actions. 'But I still like to be appreciated.'

He was the oldest of 40 people honoured by police at the Good Citizen Presentation Ceremony for fighting crime. Mr Yan, whose son is a police officer, received the same recognition in 1999 for a similar act of bravery.

On October 16 last year, Mr Yan, who was jogging as usual around a football pitch in Wan Chai Park at 6.30am, noticed a man searching bags placed near the pitch.

'I asked people playing on the pitch whether they knew the man or not,' said the former firefighter who retired from service in 1994 after 33 years.

'The thief denied that he stole anything when people questioned him on what he was doing.'

Mr Yan confronted the man, aged in his 40s and with a strong build, when he saw him rummaging through a waist bag 10 minutes later.

'Of course the thief denied it, but I recovered a bag hidden in his pants,' he said.

Mr Yan twisted the thief's arm and wrestled him to the ground and waited for the police to arrive. The thief was sentenced to six months' jail.

Despite winning the two awards, Mr Yan said he had never been thanked by the victims.

'None of them thanked me for my help. I even had to comfort a woman who was crying heavily because she thought she had lost all the money in her bag,' he said.

Another award winner, 19-year-old student Tze Kin-fai, was also self-effacing about his heroic act, which involved confronting a mobile-phone thief armed with a paper cutter in November.

'I am not a hero at all. A hero is supposed to have both intelligence and bravery. But I am just brave enough,' said the young man.

He suffered slight injuries to his left hand and neck during a struggle with the thief.

'Afterwards, my parents said I should not have fought with a thief armed with a weapon,' he said.

Mr Tze said he took the MTR at about midnight on the day of the incident after celebrating his friend's birthday in Chai Wan.

Near the Shau Kei Wan station, he heard a woman shouting for help.

'I saw a man running, so I chased him and grabbed him from behind,' he said.

'At that time, I did not think of anything except of getting the cutter from his hand.'

He said he was not frightened by the experience, which had changed his view on life.

'I learned that helping people is good, but at the same time, I need to be more concerned about personal safety.

'I should have asked others for help to subdue a robber with a cutter,' he said.

The thief was imprisoned for four years and four months.

Tsang Wai-hung, director of the force's personnel and training department, said there had been a 6.6 per cent drop in the overall crime rate in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period last year.

'These figures show the joint efforts of the police and the public in fighting against crime,' he said.