A Chinese University student found himself poorer by HK$13,300 in one day over two offences, including stealing four expensive aquarium fish.
Kwan Chun-lok, 26, slipped the thumb-sized fish - each costing HK$1,400 - into the pockets of his trousers, where they died, a court heard yesterday. He pleaded guilty to one count of theft.
Kwan was ordered to compensate the Mong Kok shop HK$5,600 for the fish, and was fined HK$3,000 for the offence. He was fined another HK$2,000 for breaching a good behaviour bond that was in effect at the time of the offence in September, Deputy Magistrate Kennis Tai Chiu-ki said.
Defence lawyer Arthur Luk Yee-shun SC described the offence as "a prank". "After stealing the fish, he did not flee the shop immediately," Luk told Kwun Tong Court. "Rather, he bought another fish for HK$390."
The court heard earlier that a manager of Aquarium World at the Mong Kok goldfish market found four Nannacara adoketa fish missing during a stock check on September 2.
CCTV footage showed Kwan catching the fish with a net the day before. He was stopped by the manager as he walked by the shop on September 4.
The shop still had not beefed up its security measures when the South China Morning Post visited yesterday. No shop assistants monitored the mezzanine floor where the expensive and rare fish were kept.
A shop assistant said surveillance cameras were installed. "Our store is big and we can't monitor every client closely," he said. "Our security has not been enhanced since the incident."
In a second case of theft, Kwan pleaded guilty to cheating a man out of HK$700 on July 5.
The man met Kwan to buy two tropical fish advertised on the internet for HK$300 and gave him a HK$1,000 banknote. Kwan said he needed to get the right change, but did not return the money to the man.
Tai fined him HK$2,000 and ordered him to pay the victim HK$700.