Police have warned rugby fans and other revellers to be on their guard as the Sevens approach after learning that groups of African women using sex as a pretext for theft have been preying on drunken expatriates in Wan Chai nightspots.
The women, powerfully built and working in groups of two or three, pose as customers in pubs in Lockhart Road and Jaffe Road.
The warning followed a report that an Australian tourist lost almost HK$10,000 in foreign currency after he met three African women and took them to his hotel room yesterday.
An investigator said one of the women would flirt with their target or offer sex services while the others acted as lookouts.
"After the man gets drunk, they take him out of the bar," he said. "They steal cash and valuables from victims on the street or in hotel rooms, but they do not take passports or bank cards."
He said the powerfully built women stood about 1.8 metres tall - and one group threw a victim in a rubbish bin when he realised he was being robbed and tried to struggle.
Police received an average of two such reports a month, usually on Fridays and Saturdays.
But the officer said there were probably a lot of unreported cases as victims were ashamed to seek help or were in a hurry to leave the city.
The Australian victim met one of the women in a pub in Wan Chai early yesterday.
After drinking heavily, he left with her shortly before 4am. As they got into a taxi, two other women followed them and jumped into the cab. He then took the three to his hotel room in Jaffe Road. After they left he found his wallet was empty. Police received a call from the man at about 4.30am and mounted a search but no one was arrested.
Police said visitors in the city for the Sevens should be alert when approached by strangers.
"Be wary of someone who overtly flirts or offers sex services in a bar" and "socialise in the company of friends or people you know", Chief Inspector Dennis Luk Hoi-ho, Hong Kong Island regional crime prevention officer, advised.
"If you feel suspicious or the situation isn't right, stay alert, limit your drinking and seek help from friends," he said.
He said the women did not use weapons or date-rape drugs as employed by some female thieves to induce victims to disclose their bank PIN numbers. Even so, Luk said people should not accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended.
A mainland woman was arrested last year for stealing money from three expatriates using this method.