Sai Wan Ho scavenger mother and two children arrested over alleged robberies

Police finally track down all three members of family who, they say, robbed goldsmith's and guesthouse to help pay off HK$200,000 gambling debts

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 3:47am

A scavenger mother and her two children who robbed a goldsmith's and a guesthouse to pay off the son's gambling debts have been arrested.

The woman, a 53-year-old divorcee who raised money by collecting waste paper and cardboard, and her son, 21, had been on the run for several days before being arrested on Monday.

The 26-year-old daughter was apprehended by officers last Friday.

Police allege they stole cash and jewellery valued at about HK$34,000 to help the son pay off HK$200,000 of debts from gambling on horse races and soccer matches.

The mother and son were suspected of trying to rob passers-by when they were arrested in Kam Ping Street, North Point, at about 7.30pm on Monday.

Officers seized a folding knife, a paper cutter and a bag of plastic cords from the son.

They had been sleeping rough in parks and shelters because they were afraid to go home and no one would take them in, police said.

At about 2.45pm yesterday the mother and son, hooded and handcuffed, were escorted to their home on the Hing Tung Estate in Sai Wan Ho, where a search took place. After 45 minutes, they were taken back to North Point police station, where they were being held for questioning last night.

A senior police officer said the arrests were made after two teams of detectives from the Eastern district crime squad worked around the clock for three days over the weekend to track them down.

"Our officers had to lie in wait in locations where the two suspects might show up and interviewed all the relatives and friends they might contact," he said.

It is alleged the woman and her two children posed as customers to snatch two gold necklaces worth about HK$30,000 from a goldsmith's shop in Electric Road, North Point, before escaping on July 31.

The three are also alleged to have robbed a guesthouse in King's Road, North Point, of HK$4,000 after tying up the attendant, a 57-year-old woman, at knifepoint about 1.30am last Friday. The daughter was arrested at about 6pm later the same day.

The son and daughter are also suspected of trying to steal money from a cash register at a convenience shop in Tai On Street, Sai Wan Ho, on July 28. Last night, police were investigating whether the three were involved in other crimes. The mother is said to have used all her savings to pay off her son's previous debts.

A police investigator said: "It appears she and her daughter were forced to rob a guesthouse and a goldsmith's to help her son raise money to pay his gambling debts."

Police figures show reports of robbery fell nearly 24 per cent to 319 in the first six months of this year from 419 in the first half of last year.

Cases of snatching rose 14 per cent to 219 in the first six months of this year from 192 last year.