A would-be robber went topless to rob a convenience store, but forgot to cover up a tattoo of a panther on his chest that led to his identification, the District Court heard yesterday.
But even if Ngai Chuen, 32, had not accidentally exposed his tattoo, the robbery was destined for failure as the shopkeepers did not understand the jobless man, who spoke in Putonghua.
Ngai ended up fleeing empty-handed, the court heard.
He was arrested later in the day when a policeman recognised his tattoo as he pulled up his shirt to wipe his sweat in a Kwun Tong shopping centre.
Ngai, who pleaded guilty to one count of attempted robbery, was sentenced to two years and four months' jail.
Judge Gary Lam Kar-yan described Ngai's attempt at robbery as "unsophisticated and amateurish".
Ngai said he committed the offence because he had no money. But the judge said he had no one to blame for his predicament but himself.
"You, being a permanent resident of Hong Kong, must know how to seek help [for your financial needs]," Lam said.
Prosecutor Henry Ma told the court that Ngai had approached a female shopkeeper in the convenience store on Tsui Ping Road, Kwun Tong, during the early hours of August 30 last year.
Topless and using a piece of cloth to cover his mouth, the man pointed a covered, knife-shaped object at the woman.
She grabbed the object, and upon realising that it was hard and shaped like a cleaver, retreated into the store and told her colleague about the incident.
Ngai then approached the two shopkeepers and attempted once more to declare his intention to rob the store.
But they appeared not to understand his Putonghua and ignored him. He then fled the shop empty-handed.
The shopkeepers later reported the case to the police. An officer came to the store and viewed the CCTV footage, which had captured images of Ngai that showed clearly the tattoo of a panther on his chest.
Later that afternoon, as the policeman was patrolling the district, he spotted Ngai pulling up his shirt and exposing the same tattoo on his chest. The officer then arrested him.
Ngai confessed he had folded newspapers into the shape of a cleaver and wrapped his T-shirt around the object before embarking on his robbery attempt.
He said that when the shopkeepers ignored his repeated threats, he became scared and fled without taking anything from the store.