Case of top drop goes missing from office
Twelve bottles of vintage French wine worth HK$11,000 each are suspected to have been stolen from a Sheung Shui office rented by a mainland trader to store parallel-import products.
The case of Chateau Lafite Rothschild red wine was said to be in a first-floor office at Cambridge Plaza in San Wan Road when the trader, 40, left on Thursday afternoon, police said.
When he returned late that night, the wine had disappeared.
Nothing else was missing and there were no signs of a break-in or ransacking, an investigator said.
'CCTV footage showed several people entered and left the unit after he left,' he said. 'We are trying to establish their identities.'
The trader told police the front door had been left unlocked for the convenience of staff who came to collect goods. Police were checking whether the workers moved the wine without telling their boss.
Crime-squad officers from Tai Po police station are investigating. No one has been arrested.
The area is frequented by Hong Kong and mainland parallel-import traders, who typically rent flats and industrial units near Sheung Shui train station to store goods. Sheung Shui is only one train station from the Lo Wu border checkpoint.
The traders smuggle milk powder, red wine, mobile phones, cosmetics and other products across the border to evade hefty mainland import and value-added taxes.
Their couriers include local housewives and mainland visitors.
'They pick up goods either at such warehouses or on the streets around the train station,' he said. 'After crossing the border, they hand the goods to syndicate members and collect money.'
Last month the police, immigration and labour departments mounted a joint operation and arrested 44 people - one Hong Kong man and 43 mainlanders. Smuggled goods worth HK$2.3 million were confiscated.
The Hongkonger was arrested on suspicion of employing illegal workers, while the mainlanders were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay in the city.
The amount in HK dollars that couriers can make ferrying goods across the border. They can make at least two trips a day