A mainland man who broke into three Hong Kong shops - bashing through a wall in one case - to steal more than HK$20 million was sentenced to six years and eight months in jail yesterday.
Gao Chuangiu, 44, pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary in the Court of First Instance.
He broke into a dried seafood shop in Connaught Road West in August 2010 with two accomplices, the court heard, by smashing a hole in the wall from an adjacent shop.
About five months later, during the Lunar New Year public holiday, he broke into a watch shop and Buddhist bookstore in Connaught Road Central.
In total, Gao and his cohorts took HK$22.9 million worth of spoils, including 520 watches worth HK$21 million, four bags of shark fin, jewellery, a DVD player, three nylon suitcases and cash.
The odd jobs worker admitted breaking through a wall into the Score Rich Trading Company from a vacant shop next door.
He also admitted burgling the Great China Watch and the Buddhist Philosophy Bookshop.
Police found hook-shaped tools and styrofoam takeout boxes at the dried seafood store.
"It appears that the hooks were for breaking the wall and the styrofoam meal boxes were for interfering [with] the sensors of the alarm system," senior prosecutor Jennifer Fok said. Gao admitted using the foam boxes to deaden the alarm, Fok confirmed.
He was placed on the wanted list and caught at the Lo Wu border control point on May 24 this year.
Initially, he denied involvement in the watch shop and bookstore burglaries.
However, police found Gao's DNA on a water bottle that had been left behind at the Buddhist bookstore and on a cigarette butt in the watch shop. He later confessed to all three crimes.
Gao had an entry permit to visit Hong Kong at the time of the burglaries.
Simon Ng, Gao's lawyer, said Gao earned only 2,000 to 3,000 yuan (HK$2,487 to HK$3,731) a month as an odd jobs man, and that his parents were in ill health.
In sentencing, Mr Justice Albert Wong Sung-hau noted that Gao had used tools to break into the premises and stole goods of substantial value.