Hong Kong police search for wounded driver in HK$23.5 million Tsim Sha Tsui jewellery robbery
Law enforcement sources say police believe the man may have injured his leg when he torched getaway car after thieves fled VIP Watch & Jewellery store on Sunday with at least 34 Swiss watches and other items
Hong Kong police were checking hospitals on Tuesday for the suspected driver of a getaway car used during Sunday’s brazen robbery in which four men stole HK$23.5 million (US$3 million) worth of valuables from a jewellery store in less than 90 seconds.
Law enforcement sources said police believed the man may have injured his leg when he torched the car after the thieves fled the VIP Watch & Jewellery store on Haiphong Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, one of the city’s busiest shopping districts. The car was left burning near Mai Po San Tsuen in Tam Kon Chau Road, Lok Ma Chau, after the crime.
“He was seen hobbling for a short distance and patting his leg while walking away from the blazing vehicle,” one source said. “He was then seen running towards San Tin Highway.”
The source said the suspect was wearing a black shirt and was alone at the time. Police were checking public hospitals in an attempt to track him down.
Police suspected the other three robbers could have already fled Hong Kong to mainland China through the Lok Ma Chau control point or Lok Ma Chau Spur Line control point.
Before midday on Tuesday, police said the suspects were still at large.
Police say the four suspects parked in Lock Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, in a seven-seater car on Sunday morning. Soon after 10.30am, three suspects left the car while a fourth remained inside.
The three entered an alley between Lock Road and Hankow Road, and crossed Hankow Road before rushing into the VIP Watch & Jewellery store at the corner of Hankow Road and Haiphong Road.
One of them hit a male employee with a retractable baton while another threatened customers and other staff with a knife. The third man smashed a glass display cabinet with a hammer and grabbed luxury watches and other valuables.
They escaped with at least 34 Swiss watches and 39 American-made bracelets. Police said the robbers were in and out of the shop in less than 90 seconds and fled to Lock Road and escaped in the car.
About 90 minutes later, the car, which had been reported stolen in Yuen Long, was found ablaze in Lok Ma Chau.
Witnesses told police that two of the men spoke fluent Cantonese. They all wore gloves, hats, windbreakers and two of them wore masks while the third man covered his face with a scarf.
Sunday’s raid was the fifth high-profile robbery in Tsim Sha Tsui since March last year.
In May, two men pried open a display window at a jewellery store in Harbour City shopping centre and snatched HK$5 million worth of jewellery.
One of the biggest robberies came in February, also in broad daylight, when five men were robbed of two suitcases carrying more than 400 million Japanese yen (HK$32 million). Police arrested three men and recovered the money after intercepting the getaway car on a flyover outside Mei Foo Sun Chuen housing estate in Lai Chi Kok.
In September, three thieves escaped on a motorbike with HK$24 million worth of jewellery after smashing a store window with hammers at the Tsim Sha Tsui branch of the Chow Sang Sang jewellery store chain on Canton Road.
And in March last year, a masked robber took just seven seconds to smash a display window with a hammer and make off with a diamond ring worth HK$5.26 million from the Tsim Sha Tsui branch of 3D-Gold on Nathan Road.
Another source said robbers targeted shops in Tsim Sha Tsui because of the high number of jewellery and watches stores. The location also offered several possible escape routes.
He said after each raid, police would analyse tactics culprits used and then review their policing.