The capital's citizens are openly mocking police efforts to crack down on crime during the 'Strike Hard' campaign - after bank robbers apparently staged a series of successful daylight heists. 'Gangs seem to have their own 'strike back hard' campaign going on', said one taxi-driver. Since the start of the crackdown, police have been mobilised in force on door-to-door searches of housing blocks, asking residents to show their identity cards to try to flush out suspects. At the same time, armed police and plain-clothes agents have been deployed on street patrols to deter protests around the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square killings. But on June 3, an armed gang carried out a successful raid outside the People's University, a hotbed of student unrest during the democracy demonstrations. Under the noses of the police and guards, the crooks blocked and robbed a vehicle transporting cash to a branch of the Construction Bank. They had already stolen a black Nissan limousine and a military number plate to be used for the getaway - on the correct assumption that no one would dare to stop such a vehicle. The number plate, the location, and the date on which the brazen theft was committed have provoked widespread speculation that this was no ordinary crime, but a political act to humiliate the Communist Party. The authorities have refused to divulge how much cash was stolen, but have taken the unusual step of informing the public in the hope that informers will come forward and claim the 'extra-large rewards' being offered. Police say that they have not captured any suspects so far. Other bank robberies are being kept secret for fear of undermining confidence in the public security bureau. Chinese sources said that a few days after the heist, a gang wielding shotguns raided a branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China near the Temple of Heaven. Guards armed only with electric batons fled, leaving the crooks to make off with seven million yuan (HK$6.5 million). It is widely believed that during the campaign, courts are under orders to pass sentences of execution on crimes involving as little as 10,000 yuan, and to implement the death penalty within days of arrest. Publicity is being given to police successes, as in yesterday's announcement that in Beijing police arrested 14 people after seizing 14 kilograms of heroin, the largest seizure to date. Yet neither the harsh penalties nor the heightened activity of the police seem to be deterring the increasingly professional and daring bank robbers.