Three people posing as big spenders yesterday stole three watches worth a total of HK$425,000 from three shops including an outlet of luxury brand Chopard in Central.
Police are investigating whether the two men and a woman were operating individually or as part of a syndicate when they duped salespeople into thinking they were genuine customers before walking off with the goods.
All the thefts occurred in the space of four hours in Central and Mong Kok.
A Putonghua-speaking woman walked into the Chopard store on the ground floor of Prince's Building on Chater Road shortly before noon.
She asked to view several watches then drew a bundle of banknotes from her handbag and left the notes and bag on a table. "We believe this move was to lead staff to believe she was a big spender and prepared to buy," a police officer said. "When staff took another watch from a showcase, she grabbed one of the watches on the table and hid it in her extendable umbrella."
She then told the sales assistant that she was in a hurry to leave and would come back to collect her handbag and money and make a purchase.
Minutes later, staff realised that a watch costing HK$210,000 was missing. The bundle of banknotes contained 20,000 yuan; the empty handbag was a fake.
The woman, thought to be aged between 40 and 50, is about 1.57 metres tall. She wore a black blouse and red skirt.
Half an hour later, a man aged about 30 asked to try on a HK$168,000 Rolex watch at a watch store in Sai Yeung Choi Street South, Mong Kok.
"He took off his own watch, strapped the Rolex on one wrist and then ran out of the shop," a police spokeswoman said. Staff gave chase but lost him.
In the third case, a middle-aged man walked into a watch shop in Des Voeux Road Central at about 4pm and asked to see eight watches. The Putonghua-speaking man said he would go to withdraw money and come back. Staff noticed a HK$47,000 Rolex was missing and called police.