Shops robbed by gang wielding AK-47 rifles

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 May, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 May, 1996, 12:00am

The revelation of Yip Kai-foon's identity came as police were preparing to renew the $1 million reward offered for Hong Kong's most wanted man.

Yip, 35, is accused by police of involvement in at least four robberies in which gangs armed with AK-47s fired scores of shots at police.

He was arrested on Monday after a shooting in Western.

On June 9, 1991, six robbers hit five adjacent shops in Mut Wah Street, Kwun Tong, netting gold and jewellery worth $5.7 million.

The gang, armed with AK-47s and pistols, fired 54 shots at police while making their getaway.

Less than a year later on March 10, 1992, eight men armed with pistols fired 65 shots at police and pedestrians as they escaped with $3 million worth of jewellery from two shops.

Yip is also suspected to have been involved in a jewellery shop robbery on January 6, 1993 when a gang unleashed more than 30 rounds from their AK-47s, shooting dead a woman as she walked past the shop in Nathan Road, Mongkok.

One gang member was shot dead by police in the midday chase along some of the district's busiest roads. The gunmen, who sprayed the tourist district with bullets, abandoned their dead partner when switching getaway cars.

Macau police believe Yip was involved in the enclave's largest robbery in April 1994, when $40 million worth of gambling chips were stolen by armed robbers from a casino in the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Taipa.

Shots were fired into the ceiling before the gang sped to China with their haul aboard a small speedboat.

Police have offered a reward of $500,000 for each of the two crimes in 1991 and 1992, for information leading to his arrest and successful prosecution.

Both reward notices, which are renewed each time their six-month validity expires, are due to expire next month.

Organised Crime and Triad Bureau officers had planned to renew the $1 million offer - the highest reward police have ever posted for the capture of a suspect.

But the two police officers who wounded Yip during Monday's shootout will not see a cent of the reward.

A police spokesman said Chow Hau-leung and Tam Kin-fung were executing their duty.

Yip was sentenced to 18 years in jail in Hong Kong in 1985 for firearms offences.

He escaped during a visit to Queen Mary Hospital in August 1989 when guards allowed him to go to the toilet without an escort.

Outside, he threatened a van driver and his son with a broken bottle and fled.