PROTECTION of Hong Kong businessmen is to be given a high priority in a crime blitz by Shenzhen security authorities. The Public Security Bureau admitted yesterday it was concerned at the number of attacks on visitors from the territory. The 80-day anti-crime operation will be launched next week. The bureau said more than 240 offences against Hong Kong businessmen had occurred in the 18 months up to July this year. These included 140 robberies, 40 abductions and 13 murders. There were 371 burglary cases involving Hong Kong enterprises in the same period. Vice-director of the bureau's Public Security Administrative Department, Zhou Liqiang, said one of the reasons for the increased attacks was because Hong Kong businessmen did not understand the mainland's 'legal and social environment'. Almost 95 per cent of the crimes in Shenzhen last year were committed by people from other parts of China. The crime blitz 'will target criminals who undermine the safety of foreign businessmen and Shenzhen people', Mr Zhou said. He was speaking at a seminar on the safety of foreign businessmen organised by Wong Tai Sin Industry and Commerce Association. Some of the 120 businessmen attending the seminar were concerned about the need to pay fees or gifts to public security officers before they began an investigation. Director of Shenzhen's United Front Department, Liao Junwen, said such fees were not allowed. About 10 such serious cases had taken place over the last few years, with the officers involved being sentenced, dismissed or re-educated. However, director of Shenzhen Public Security Bureau's Law Department, Wu Guang, said: 'It's illegal but can be understandable. Without the collection, it's difficult for some policemen to launch investigations, particularly those [which] involved lots of travelling expenses and complex efforts. 'But according to my knowledge, most policemen always return the money to victims after the 'administrative' fees are offset.' Many officials in the cash-strapped government treated the practice as 'expediency' aimed at avoiding delays in investigations.