Two thieves poured kerosene on employees of a jewellery shop in Tsim Sha Tsui and appeared to threaten them with a pistol, before fleeing with HK$10 million worth of diamonds in a 60-second heist yesterday.
The two men entered the Diamond Collection shop, at the junction of Hanoi Road and Mody Road, at about 11.30am. There were six employees inside at the time but no customers.
The Cantonese-speaking robbers were dressed as construction workers to hide their identities, wearing yellow safety helmets, reflective vests, face masks and gloves. One of them carried a red plastic bucket that contained a flammable liquid, according to chief inspector Lisa Mao Lee-sha of Kowloon West regional crime unit.
"One of the culprits poured the flammable liquid on three staff members and used a crowbar to pry open a showcase," Mao said.
"The other drew out what appeared to be a pistol and pointed it at staff ordering them to open another showcase."
Police said the pair snatched 150 diamonds worth HK$10 million from the two cases. The hold-up lasted no longer than a minute.
Mao said the stolen gems were of different sizes, the biggest being a 10-carat diamond.
Dozens of policemen mounted a search in the immediate area, but no one was arrested.
A police source said the robbery was efficient and well planned, and he believed the culprits posed as customers to visit the shop before the raid.
"They only targeted the two showcases in the shop where the most expensive items were kept," he said.
"We believe they only snatched diamonds because it is easy to find buyers [for diamonds] on the underground market."
As there are construction sites in the area, the source said it may not have raised the suspicions of passers-by to see the two men dressed as building workers running on the streets.
He said the robbers probably knew the showcases were not installed with a security alarm. Police are investigating whether the thieves may have received help from someone with knowledge of the shop.
It is just 200 metres away from the Oriental Watch outlet in an arcade at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile on Mody Road where HK$6.5 million worth of watches were stolen in a three-minute smash-and-grab raid in August.