A luggage thief with a taste for German-brand Rimowa suitcases at Chek Lap Kok airport was caught red-handed after he snatched a bag yesterday.
Police recovered 13 more suitcases of the same brand at his Shek Kip Mei home of the man who works as a tour guide for Wing On Travel.
"The suspect is a local tour leader. We suspect he took advantage of his frequent business trips and stole luggage at the airport's baggage collection hall when returning to Hong Kong," a police officer said.
The suitcases were probably sold on the internet.
Police said the suspect targeted this luxury brand of suitcases because each could be sold online for between HK$1,000 and a few thousand dollars. "Valuables found inside the suitcases are a bonus," the officer said.
A Rimowa suitcase can cost more than HK$10,000. "It is sold on the internet at a 50 per cent to 75 per cent discount on the original price," the officer said.
The arrest was made after a sharp rise in the number of luggage thefts at the airport this year. Police received 40 reports in the first seven months, while there were only 31 cases in the whole of last year.
Plainclothes officers waited at the baggage collection hall of the airport yesterday morning after receiving information.
Around noon, the suspect arrived from Dubai with a tour group and was seen grabbing a suitcase belonging to a traveller from the mainland, said Senior Inspector Yuen Shing-hei of the airport police.
Officers intercepted him after he left the restricted area. The case contained clothes, personal effects and about US$10,000.
At 4.30pm, the hooded and handcuffed man was escorted to his home in Chak On Estate in Shek Kip Mei, where officers recovered 13 more suitcases.
"The 13 suitcases are of the same brand and in different sizes but empty," Yuen said. "We are investigating whether they were also stolen from the airport."
Last night, the man was being detained at the airport police station for questioning.
Earlier this year, police arrested three contract workers in connection with the theft of a suitcase that contained tens of thousands of US dollars.