Hong Kong police hunt robbers in HK$22 million gold bullion heist

Gang leaves 170 gold bars worth HK$50 million in delivery van before making getaway

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2016, 1:44pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2016, 11:30pm

A citywide hunt for a gang of robbers is under way after they made off with 81 gold bars worth about HK$22.68 million in a 20-second daylight hold-up on Tuesday – the biggest bullion heist for five years.

But another 177 gold bars worth about HK$50 million were left at the crime scene in Fanling.

The robbers struck outside Heraeus Technology Centre in On Chuen Street when a man, 33, was unloading bags of gold bars from a delivery van onto a trolley shortly before 9am.

Three men wearing hoods and wielding knives got out of a golden Toyota Camry, sprayed the victim’s face with an unknown liquid and grabbed the trolley, which had three bags on it. They pushed it into an alley before jumping into a white Toyota Previa in Kui Sik Street to make their getaway.

“The victim tried to give chase but one of the culprits pointed a knife at him,” said Superintendent Li Kwai-wah of the New Territories North regional crime unit.

He said police were searching for five men, including the two drivers, and the two vehicles.

Describing the hold-up as “co-ordinated” and “organised”, Li said the gang had a car to get them to the scene as well as a separate getaway vehicle.

“The whole event lasted no more than 20 seconds,” he added.

According to a police source, another six bags of gold bars worth about HK$50 million were left untouched in the delivery van. Each gold bar weighs 1kg.

“It is possible they did not realise there were six other bags or did not have enough time,” he said.

“It appears to be an inside job because the culprits knew the route, date and time of delivery.”

The consignment was being transported from a Sha Tau Kok company to a nearby workshop to be melted and made into ornaments, according to police.

The victim, an employee of the company that owns the gold bars, was treated at North District Hospital in Sheung Shui and later discharged.

He had been a driver and delivery worker for the company for several months, police said.

Road blocks were set up in the New Territories North region in an effort to intercept the getaway car. Officers on regular patrol also joined in the hunt.

No arrests had been made as of press time last night.

Superintendent Li said police were looking into why such a low-security arrangement was used to deliver the precious cargo. The delivery van was not fitted with any security equipment.

He advised those involved in delivering large amounts of cash and valuables to employ a professional cash escort service.

The Hong Kong police website offers advice on procedures to follow if such a service is not employed, such as using “at least two physically fit and reliable staff” and making “frequent changes of routes, dates and times of delivery”.