It was a husband's nightmare come true: left to watch over his wife's HK$400,000 collection of designer shoes, a Belgian businessman dropped his guard for five minutes and returned to find them stolen.
It happened in Hollywood Road about midday yesterday while the couple were moving out of their apartment.
The 80 pairs of shoes were in two suitcases sitting on the pavement as removal workers loaded other items, including furniture, into their truck.
The man left his post briefly and "when he returned five minutes later, the two suitcases had disappeared", a police investigator said.
The businessman called police after the workers told him they had not loaded the suitcases into the truck.
"Police were told that the shoes were expensive designer products and each pair cost about HK$5,000," the officer said.
Officers mounted a fruitless search of the area for the suitcases.
In an effort to identify the thief or thieves, police will check footage of surveillance cameras from shops in the vicinity.
Detectives from Central police station are investigating. No one has been arrested.
Another officer said thieves, believed to be foreigners, were looking for opportunities in Central, Tsim Sha Tsui and other shopping areas.
"They are opportunists," the officer said.
"They usually scout out the areas outside banks and jewellery shops and look at bags carried by passers-by looking for theft opportunities."
Police figures showed there were 7,681 reports of theft in the first three months this year.
There were 8,475 cases in the same period of last year.