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Hong Kong housing

It’s raining cats and dogs, and TVs: things thrown from a height in Hong Kong despite efforts to crack down

A sledgehammer, a butcher’s cleaver, an air conditioner, a wooden pallet, scissors, pets – all have fallen or been thrown from high-rises in Hong Kong despite surveillance and efforts to educate residents about civic pride

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 April, 2018, 7:34am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 April, 2018, 8:34pm

What do a sledgehammer, fire extinguisher, two cats, a Spider-Man toy and a rucksack stuffed with cash have in common? Clue: this is not a joke. It is a list of objects that have all fallen or been thrown from a height over the past decade by Hong Kong residents of high-rise buildings.

The latest case was reported last week when a dog fell through the sunroof of a vehicle in Wan Chai – followed by a wooden pallet that landed next to it.

Many such incidents may go unreported because fatalities are rare. But the dangerous phenomenon made plenty of headlines in 2009, when a seven-year-old girl escaped serious injury when she was struck on the head by a falling hammer at a Tuen Mun public housing estate.

Beloved Hong Kong litterbug Lap Sap Chung gets clean start

Asked how common such incidents were, police revealed they had received 857 reports of “falling objects” in the first nine months of 2009. A total of 661 people had been injured.

Most of the items dropped from upper-floor windows and balconies were food leftovers and unwanted household goods, police said. 

Other items that mysteriously fell or were thrown from high-rises in the space of just four weeks at the end of 2009 included a television set, air conditioner, butcher’s cleaver, scissors and a block of concrete. 

To tackle the problem at public housing estates, the Housing Department said it had installed video cameras and deployed a team of former police officers to detect such offences. Still, the antisocial behaviour continued.

The following year, a 73-year-old man was admitted to hospital after being hit on the head by a falling stone while playing chess in a Tsing Yi park. On the same day, a 68-year-old man was taken to hospital after being hit by a bag of food waste thrown from a block of flats in Sau Mau Ping. 

In March 2015, a piece of luggage, a fire extinguisher, a Spider-Man toy and a rucksack containing thousands of yuan in cash were among items hurled from the window of a guest house in Mong Kok by a visitor from China.

Four months later, a 50-year-old man was arrested after he threw a wooden cabinet, hair dryer and a burning metal tray from the window of his public housing flat during a stand-off with police.

A more recent case that made headlines came in April last year, when an unemployed woman threw two cats from her 40th floor window, suspecting they had cancer and wanting to end their suffering. She was later jailed.

The Hong Kong government has run civic education programmes for decades to try to reduce littering in general and the throwing of objects from a height, using a cartoon character called Lap Sap Chung, or “litterbug”. The character was introduced to the Hong Kong public on November 1, 1972, in Statue Square. The Post reported at the time that nearly 10,000 people attended the unveiling of a six-metre papier-maché likeness of the “green, wart-studded creature”.

It was later blown up in a mock sacrifice, leaving the mess to be cleaned up by women with brooms who were known as Miss Super Cleans.