Police seized guns and bullets in a raid on a storage facility in Fo Tan yesterday, saying the operator's licence had expired and public safety was at stake.
The weapons were taken to police headquarters for inspection and to see if they matched the numbers stated on licences issued for them.
The quantities and types of the weapons seized were not yet known. The counting was in process last night and no one had been arrested.
Police said they would also investigate if the storage operator, who was missing, had been linked to any other crimes.
The storage facility, which had been licensed to keep arms and dangerous goods, was located on the ground floor of an industrial building at 2-9 Kwei Tei Street. Officers carrying a search warrant issued by a court arrived at the premises at about noon and cordoned it off. They filled a number of plastic boxes with guns and ammunition.
Police confirmed the operator of the storage facility had left Hong Kong and could not be reached.
As the licence had expired, police decided to take over the guns and ammunition to protect public safety.
A police statement said: 'Since the permit has expired and the operator cannot be reached, it is reasonable to believe that the licensee is not able to properly manage and control the guns and ammunition in possession under the licence.'
Unconfirmed reports said the storage operator was allegedly connected to illegal arms smuggling into the mainland.
A police spokeswoman refused to give further details about the case yesterday, saying only that the raid was carried out after an investigation for 'some time'.
The spokeswoman also declined to say whether the organised crime and triad bureau was in charge of the case.