Tourists with stun guns caught unaware at airport

Number arrested for carrying the devices rises as many don't know they are illegal in the city

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 June, 2013, 7:14am

The number of people arrested for carrying electric stunning devices at Chek Lap Kok airport jumped more than sixfold in the first quarter of the year compared with the same period last year, according to police figures.

The force said many of those stopped were tourists who had brought the devices to the city because they did not know they were banned here and had come from countries where there was no legislation prohibiting possession of the items.

Most said they had brought the devices for self-protection and not for malicious purposes, the force added. The figures show there were 44 such arrests from January to March, up more than six times in the same period last year.

The number of devices seized was 55, because some of those arrested were carrying more than one stun gun.

In the whole of last year, 57 people were arrested and 170 electric stunning devices were seized, compared to only 36 arrests and 66 devices in 2011.

"We have seen a sharp rise recently," said Patrick Kwok Pak-chung, senior superintendent and district commander of the airport district.

"The tourists do not know that the devices are not allowed under Hong Kong law."

Detective inspector Yuen Shing-hei explained that the increase was mostly due to a rise in passenger flow at the airport.

"And these devices are very cheap these days. You can buy them for a few dozen dollars now. It used to cost more than HK$100," he said.

Among those arrested for carrying an electric stunning device into Hong Kong in the first quarter, 14 were from the Philippines, five were from France, and three were from the mainland, with the remaining 22 coming from other countries.

Under the Firearms and Ammunition Ordinance, which prohibits electric stunning devices and firearms, the maximum penalty for possession can be a fine of HK$100,000 and 14 years' imprisonment.

Police also seized numerous other restricted items at the airport, but their numbers have remained steady.

Among items seized in the first three months were 12 knuckledusters, 297 cans of tear gas and 10 flick-knives.

Some of the knuckledusters seized were in the form of necklaces and handbag handles.

The Aviation Security Ordinance allows for a fine of HK$100,000 and five years' imprisonment for carrying these items.