Thief walks out of Burberry store wearing HK$995,000 alligator coat
Clifford Lo and Ng Kang-chung
An audacious shoplifter left one of the world's biggest designer brands red-faced after he walked out of a Hong Kong store with a HK$995,000 alligator skin coat.
The brazen robber - who was caught on security cameras in the Burberry store in Tsim Sha Tsui - is understood to have simply lifted the trench coat off the mannequin it was on and calmly walked out of the store into the crowded Silvercord shopping mall on Canton Road at around 7.30pm on Wednesday.
Staff didn't notice it was gone until several hours later when they were doing a stock take at closing time. The police were called in at midnight.
The light grey garment had only been delivered to the store hours earlier and was not fitted with a security tag, police said.
Security cameras showed a Chinese man in his 30s or 40s taking the jacket off the mannequin inside the three-storey store and walking out unchallenged.
He was in and out of the shop - one of 14 Burberry has in the city - in around a minute, one police officer said. They believe the thief was acting alone.
Shop assistants appeared unaware of the man as they were serving other customers.
A South China Morning Post visit to the store yesterday found security was tight, with at least two staff serving each customer. Sales assistants refused to discuss the theft, only saying it was "business as usual".
Celebrity fashion stylist Nel Nel Cheung said of alligator skin garments: "Every piece is unique. The slightest mistake while sewing the garment together can ruin the whole piece."
According to a police source, some designer brands do not like security tags on their products.
"They think it will ruin their design and damage their brand name," the source said, "They rely on surveillance cameras and security personnel."
He also revealed there were on average two or three reports of theft a month from luxury shops in Tsim Sha Tsui. "They are opportunists and usually act alone. They target designer goods that do not have security tags."
A spokesman for the store said last night: "As the case is under investigation, Burberry will not make any further comments."