A robber posing as a big spender managed to convince a sales assistant to let him try on two luxury watches at the Zenith Boutique in Tsim Sha Tsui - and then bolted out the door with his HK$480,000 haul, police say.
It was a simple ploy: the 1.8-metre-tall man outran the staff members who chased after him and then disappeared into the holiday crowds on Monday night, a police officer said.
The Cantonese-speaking Chinese man is thought to be aged about 40. He was wearing a yellow polo shirt, black vest and dark trousers at the time of the robbery. According to police, the brazen thief entered the store on the second level of the Ocean Terminal shopping centre on Canton Road shortly before 10pm.
"The sales assistant [unlocked a showcase] and took out two watches to show the man when he asked to view them," a police investigator said yesterday.
"He strapped both watches on one wrist then ran out of the shop when no one was guarding the entry. Staff members gave chase immediately, but lost him in the busy shopping arcade."
The two Zenith watches were priced at HK$250,000 and HK$230,000, police said.
"It appears the man acted alone during the raid," the investigator said.
"But it is possible he had a partner who acted as a lookout outside the shop and directed him to escape."
The Yau Tsim Mong police district crime squad is looking into the case.
One area of investigation was whether the raid was linked with other thefts in the district, which has seen high-end retailers targeted by gangs of thieves whose members include mainland Chinese, Vietnamese, South Asians and Latin Americans, another officer said.
About two months ago, a shoplifter was arrested for stealing a HK$900,000 alligator skin coat from a Burberry store in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Police figures show 31,598 reports of theft across the city last year, a 6.1 per cent drop from 33,664 in 2012. There were 35,026 in 2011 and 34,343 in 2010.