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Crime in Hong Kong

Hong Kong bus firm KMB and the strange incidents of needles being planted in passenger seats

Why has city’s biggest bus operator been targeted and who is responsible?

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 July, 2018, 7:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 July, 2018, 5:24pm

A bizarre string of incidents involving needles sticking out of seats on Hong Kong buses has sparked panic among some passengers.

Over the past week, six cases of needles being planted in seats on KMB double-decker buses have left at least two passengers injured.

In another incident, a toothpick was found lodged in a seat and there were two cases of seats being slashed on buses.

Man arrested over needles sticking out of Hong Kong bus seats

There were two new incidents on Wednesday. In one case, a passenger spotted a needle lying on a seat and in the other, a bus user ran to the driver to report that there were three needles under a seat.

1. On which KMB bus routes were needles found?

The first case involved a bus on route 41A from Tsim Sha Tsui East to Tsing Yi last Wednesday evening. A woman boarded the bus in Yau Ma Tei and sat on the upper deck without realising a needle had been planted in her seat, injuring her hip. About an hour later, another woman was injured in the thigh by a needle on the top deck on route 48X that was running between Sha Tin and Tsuen Wan.

Yet another needle found sticking out of Hong Kong bus seat

The next day, another needle was spotted on a route 81 bus, but no one was injured. Needles were also spotted on buses on routes 46, 17, 81, 59M and 235M. Of the women hurt, one said she had not been infected. The other was reportedly only slightly injured.

2. Who is the culprit?

Police are investigating the incidents but there have been no arrests. Dennis Wong Sing-wing, a criminology professor at City University, believes the needle planting is likely the work of one person because of the similarity between cases. “It could be the same perpetrator who hates KMB very much and acted to retaliate,” he said. Wong added it was possible the culprit had a grudge against the company because a family member or friend had been the victim of a traffic accident. It was also possible that the culprit planted the needles out of anger at a bad bus driver.

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3. How has KMB reacted?

The company – Hong Kong’s biggest bus operator – “treated these incidents seriously and strongly condemned” whoever planted the needles, deputy operations director Patrick Pang Shu-hung has said. KMB has told drivers to conduct more checks on buses. It also urged passengers to check their seats carefully before sitting, and that they should contact the police and the company immediately if they find anything suspicious.

4. Do KMB buses have CCTV cameras installed?

About half of KMB’s fleet of more than 3,800 double-decker buses have CCTV installed on both the upper and lower decks. But KMB said that the nine cameras on each bus cannot capture every corner of the vehicle. The company has passed the CCTV footage to the police.

5. What should I do if I am pricked by a needle?

Doctors say passengers should seek medical treatment as soon as possible if they have been injured. If passengers choose to treat the wound by themselves, they will only be able to clean the surface, and not the inside. Normally, doctors will give the injured a tetanus shot and prescribe antibiotics.