Hong Kong ‘Flying Tigers’ seize HK$5 million in cash, valuables in predawn raid on village hut

Police source says three arrested men are illegal immigrants from mainland

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 4:21pm
UPDATED : Friday, 06 January, 2017, 1:16am

Police officers from Hong Kong’s elite special unit known as the Flying Tigers were deployed to storm a village hut and arrest a gang of suspected burglars from the mainland in a predawn operation in Pat Heung on Thursday.

About HK$5 million in cash, jewellery, watches and valuables suspected to have been stolen in a series of holiday season burglaries was recovered in their rental hut at Tai Kong Po Tsuen that was allegedly used as their hideout, police said.

Sources told the Post that police were still hunting for the mastermind of the gang who hired illegal immigrants from the mainland to raid luxury homes and shops in the city over the past two months.

According to a police source, the eight cases included the break-in at the home of prominent senior counsel Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah in Tuen Mun. Cheng, 58, is head of the International Arbitration Centre and a recipient of the Gold Bauhinia Star, the city’s top civic honour. She was hosting a Christmas Day party when thieves entered her home and fled with HK$3 million in cash and valuables.

He said the latest case happened on Tuesday, when more than HK$5 million in cash and valuables was stolen from a luxury house in Lok Ma Chau.

“Initial investigations showed the gang to be tied to at least eight burglary cases in the New Territories South, the New Territories North and Kowloon West regions, that involved about HK$10 million in stolen property,” Superintendent Li Kwai-wah of the New Territories North regional crime unit said.

The three men aged 33 to 36 are illegal immigrants from the mainland. Two of them came from Guangxi province and the third man from Shanwei in Guangdong province.

Describing them as a sophisticated and well-organised syndicate, Li said the gang targeted high-end homes in Tai Po, Tuen Mun and Sheung Shui and shops in urban area that sold second-hand luxury handbags.

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He said the gang members had two-way permits - mainland travel documents - but they chose to enter Hong Kong through illegal channels. “We believe the move was to cover their crimes committed in Hong Kong,” Li said.

Acting Chief Inspector Wan Kai-ming said the gang members had a clear division of labour, with members assigned for reconnaissance, raiding or as lookouts, adding that they were equipped with powerful binoculars and video recording devices to scout their targets, as well as equipment such as a mini hydraulic cutter for conducting break-ins.

“They also carried a diamond detector that was used at crime scenes to test items whether they are genuine diamond,” he said.

Li said it was possible further arrests would be made.

The three men in their 30s are illegal immigrants from the mainland
police source

The gang’s hideout was discovered by police after a two-week investigation into the gang.

The Flying Tigers officers stormed the single-storey hut in Tai Kong Po Tsuen off Kong Tai Road at about 5am on Thursday.

A police source said unit’s deployment was necessary because intelligence indicated the gang was armed. Inside the hut, officers seized two canisters of pepper spray and knives.

A nearby house, owned by an elderly man surnamed Lee, was also raided by police during the operation.

“Flying Tigers officers kicked open the front door,” he told local media. “I was pointed at with a gun.”

Lee, who owns the hut, said the hut had been rented by a Cantonese-speaking man about three months ago.

Last night, the three suspects were being held for questioning and had not been charged.

Household burglaries involving more than HK$500,000 in losses jumped 50 per cent year on year during the first 10 months of last year.

The increase prompted local police to call for closer cooperation with their mainland counterparts to crack down on cross-border criminals.

The rise came despite an overall 7.2 per cent decline in the number of break-ins across the city over the same period. But the total amount of losses rose from HK$94.6 million to HK$139.9 million.