Thieves exploit typhoon to steal valuables worth over HK$5m

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 August, 2012, 5:17am

Thieves took advantage of Typhoon Kai-tak to steal more than HK$5 million worth of valuables in four raids on land and at sea early yesterday.

While the No 8 typhoon signal was hoisted, one gang stole 40 designer handbags, five leather belts and two silk scarves worth HK$4.87 million from the Paris Station shop in Percival Street, Causeway Bay.

Police said the gang broke open the front door and snatched the valuables at about 4.30am.

Officers were called in when the shop's alarm went off, but the thieves had escaped.

The burglary took no more than one or two minutes and the thieves likely fled in a getaway car, a police officer said. "It appears they took advantage of the No 8 typhoon signal for the raid as fewer people were on the streets," the officer said.

At New Yau Ma Tei Typhoon Shelter, HK$350,000 in cash, gold ornaments and jewellery were stolen from a fishing boat, while two mobile phones and a computer were taken from another overnight on Thursday.

The tenant of a flat in Repulse Bay Road woke up yesterday to discover that a watch, a computer and three mobile phones worth a total of HK$140,000 were stolen overnight.

There were also typhoon-related problems at the airport, made worse by the technical failures of a Hong Kong Airlines flight from Shanghai, which had to land with flat tyres at around 11.30am. Some 268 flights had been delayed by 5pm yesterday, with a further 21 cancelled.

The 248 passengers and 12 crew members on the stricken flight disembarked safely, but the north runway was closed for about two hours for emergency repairs.

Richard Castka, who was on a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok, said the plane only managed to land on its third attempt, with the captain placing the blame on strong winds.

"The plane was shaking all over when it came down," Castka said. "Everyone gave a round of applause when it landed."

But there was minimal disruption for office workers yesterday morning, as the No8 signal, hoisted on Thursday night, was downgraded to No3 at 6.20am yesterday as the typhoon hit land in Guangdong province.

At the height of the storm, 159 people sought refuge at 24 government shelters. One woman was injured and six trees were damaged.