Police have warned that the risk of break-ins is higher during holidays, after releasing statistics showing an increase in quick-cash crimes in the first 11 months of the year.
Figures from the Kowloon West police region, which includes the commercial districts of Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui, showed that 8,771 such crimes - including theft, burglary, shoplifting, robbery and street scams - were reported by the end of November, up 6.5 per cent year on year.
Shoplifting cases rose 19.1 per cent to 2,029.
Burglary cases were up 6.4 per cent to 1,307, the first rise since 2002, with 792 cases involving residential apartments and 286 involving ground-level shops.
A total of 158 people - 140 men and 18 women - were arrested for burglary in Kowloon West in the first 11 months of the year. The youngest was aged only 11 and the oldest was 64.
Police said the 11-year-old girl and two men stole a key from a friend in February and broke into a house, taking cash and jewellery worth a total of HK$14,000.
Chief Inspector Chui Yui-luen, the Kowloon West regional crime prevention officer, said the rising number of quick-cash crimes might be partly related to the economic downturn in the second half of the year, when more people lost their jobs, while the risk of break-ins was usually higher during holiday seasons when homes or shops were left unattended.
But she said most burglars had criminal records and were skilled and professional.
Senior Inspector Tang Wai-ying, of the regional investigation unit, said many burglars wore gloves and caps, and seldom left any forensic evidence.
Chief Inspector Chui said neighbours should report any suspicious activities to the police.
Security guards should also make more frequent patrols and prevent strangers from entering buildings.
Chief Inspector Chui said more uniformed police officers would be patrolling the streets during the holiday season.
Snatch and run
Quick-cash crimes are on the rise, the police have warned
The number of burglary cases in Kowloon West rose this much in the first 11 months of this year: 6.4%