Hong Kong police arrest two suspects, recover gold bars in heist breakthrough

Male suspect thought to have sold stolen gold; manhunt continues for five-member gang who carried out the HK$22m robbery in Fanling in November

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 January, 2017, 3:26pm
UPDATED : Friday, 06 January, 2017, 11:25pm

Police have made a breakthrough in the investigation of one of the city’s biggest bullion heists with the arrest of a suspected triad member and his elderly mother and recovery of part of the haul.

The man, 40, suspected to be a 14K triad member, was picked up at Sheung Shui MTR station shortly after 4pm on Thursday, while his mother, 63, was detained in Tai Po about two hours later, according to a police source.

“Two gold bars were found hidden in secret pockets in the man’s trousers,” the source said. He was taken to his flat in nearby Choi Yuen Estate, where officers recovered another five bars.

Police said the seven gold bars worth about HK$2 million were from 81 bars worth HK$22.68 million stolen in a 20-second daylight hold-up by a gang of five men in Fanling in November.

Initial investigations showed the man had been recruited to sell gold bars and paid 10 per cent of the total received, according to the source. It is understood he allegedly helped the gang sell several gold bars before his arrest.

“We are investigating whether the gold bars were sold on the mainland. If confirmed, police will seek help from their mainland counterparts to retrieve them,” the source said.

Each gold bar weighs 1kg and is worth about 280,000 yuan (HK$314,500) on the mainland.

According to police, the five gold bars recovered in the public housing flat were hidden in places such as the kitchen, bedroom and living room. “Officers equipped with a metal detector spent more than an hour retrieving them.”

Acting Chief Inspector Wan Kai-ming of New Territories North regional crime unit said one of the gold bars wrapped in white paper was found hidden in a tissue box and another in a ­mobile phone case.

Superintendent Li Kwai-wah said initial investigations showed the suspect was hired to handle stolen property. “At this stage, there is no indication he was one of the five robbers in the heist.”

Li said the man was likely to be charged with one count of handling stolen property and the woman would be released on bail pending further investigation.

Police are still searching for the gang who struck as a man was unloading bags containing gold bars from a delivery van onto a trolley in Fanling on November 22.

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.

The victim tried to give chase, but one of the culprits pointed a knife at him. The gang pushed the trolley into an alley before jumping into a white Toyota Previa in Kui Sik Street to make their getaway.

Another six bags carrying 177 bars worth about HK$50 million were left untouched in the delivery van.

Police figures show the number of robberies surged by 15.4 per cent to 225 in the first 10 months of last year from 195 in the same period in 2015. There were 223 cases in the whole of 2015.