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Asylum seekers in Asia

Two suspects in Lamma Island burglaries arrested in Hong Kong ferry pier surprise

Police investigation led officers to identify the Colombian nationals in the nine reported incidents in which HK$300,000 in cash and valuables were stolen

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 4:35pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 11:49pm

Two Colombian men, including an asylum seeker, thought to be involved in a series of recent break-ins on Lamma Island were arrested in a police ambush at a Central pier on Wednesday night before boarding a ferry.

A Colombian woman, believed to be their accomplice and acting as a lookout in the break-ins over the past five weeks, was still being sought by the force, a police source said on Thursday.

Officers from the marine police regional crime unit pored over security camera footage and identified the three suspects after about HK$300,000 in cash and valuables were stolen in nine reported burglaries on the island between May 25 and June 16.

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It was understood the victims included a Russian teacher, a freelance British teacher, a Dutch artist, and a local computer programmer.

Investigations showed two of the three suspects typically struck together between dinner time and midnight, the source said. He noted they went to the island in the evening and left before midnight.

One worked as a lookout while the other climbed into their targeted house
police source

“One worked as a lookout while the other climbed into their targeted house by using hard objects such as a screwdriver to pry open a window,” he said.

The costliest burglary took place on May 26, as HK$143,000 in cash and valuables including 30 watches were stolen from a house in Tai Peng San Chuen.

On June 4, the Russian teacher returned home after a trip to mainland China and found it had been ransacked. More than HK$11,000 in cash and valuables were stolen.

Police arrested two male visitors from the mainland for loitering on June 8 after they were found acting suspiciously outside a village house on the island. They were later released after an investigation showed they were not linked to the break-ins.

About a week after the arrests, police were notified when a female tenant returned home on June 14 and found her house had been ransacked. Officers said a Rolex watch worth about HK$50,000 and a computer notebook worth HK$9,000 had been stolen.

After identifying the three Colombian suspects, plainclothes officers were lying in wait from June 15 onwards at the ferry piers on the island and Central between dinner time and midnight, police said.

On Wednesday, the two men were found entering a pier on Man Kwong Street in Central shortly after 6pm. Before they boarded a Lamma Island-bound ferry, officers intercepted them after a brief struggle.

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Police seized a screwdriver, a flashlight and face masks in two bags the men had been carrying. Two iPhones that police found on one of the suspects were suspected to be stolen.

Another source said one of the two suspects, aged 36, was an asylum seeker from Colombia who had been in Hong Kong since 2015. No identification document was found on the other man.

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As of Thursday afternoon, the two suspects were still being held for questioning at Central police station and had not been charged.

Detectives from the marine police regional crime unit were handling the case.