HE is almost certainly from Zhejiang or Jiangsu province, in his 20s or 30s, and down on his luck. A combination of the grinding daily struggle to exist in China and the lure of the booming south's bright lights made his decision for him. The illegal immigrant from the far north generally begins his journey in search of riches, but with no intention of setting foot in the territory. When he realises the streets of Guangzhou and Shenzhen are not paved with gold, he heads for the border. Unlike his southern counterpart, who is fed on a nightly diet of Hong Kong television, he has little or no knowledge of the territory and no idea of what to expect. He speaks no Cantonese, has no family or friends and cannot go home empty-handed for fear of losing face. According to police profiles, most illegal immigrants from north of Guangdong are bewildered and starving when they reach Hong Kong. Some are happy to be arrested; desperation plunges others into crime. 'For all those reasons they'll come back again and again, fail again and again, then try once more,' a police spokesman said. Those who turn to crime do so with abandonment, said one officer on patrol in villages near the border. 'They are not perfect thieves who know a lot about locks and delicate equipment. More hair-raising are their blatant attempts to pick up any tool from the surroundings to break into a target property. 'They not only sneak in through open windows and climb pipes, some even break into houses by forcing open the [wall] planks with a pick-axe.'