Thief tricks Peninsula hotel into opening room safe, walks off with HK$50K

Peninsula staff unwittingly help fake guest carry out HK$50,000 theft

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 July, 2013, 9:20am

A thief who pretended to be a guest at the luxury Peninsula hotel coolly tricked staff into opening a safe and escaped with HK$50,000 in foreign currency and valuables, police revealed.

The man, a foreigner, approached the front desk of the hotel in Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, at about 4am on Sunday, claiming to have lost his room key. The room number he gave was occupied by a French businessman, whose name and birth date he gave as proof of identity. The real guest and his wife were in bed in the room at the time.

"Speaking in English, he told hotel staff that he had lost his room key and demanded another one," a police officer said.

After obtaining the spare key, the man apparently waited until the couple went out on Sunday afternoon before letting himself into their room.

"He then telephoned the front desk from the room saying he had forgotten the password of the safe and asked for assistance to open it," the officer said.

He greeted hotel staff wearing a pair of slippers, a blue T-shirt and jeans and they helped him open the safe.

After the staff left, the robber emptied the safe and escaped with £3,000 (HK$34,650), a laptop computer worth about HK$15,000, and several bank cards.

The break-in was discovered when the 47-year-old Frenchman and his wife returned at about 9pm. Police were called in at about 11.45pm.

After viewing footage from surveillance cameras, police said they were looking for a 1.77m-tall non-Asian man. Detectives suspect the intruder is from South America.

Director of public relations at The Peninsula, Olivia Toth, said she was unable to comment while police were investigating.

A senior officer said the hotel industry would be informed of the case.