Hong Kong police arrest five men over spate of seat slashings on KMB buses as another double-decker is vandalised
Suspects, aged 22 to 52, picked up in a series of raids that began at 8am, with cutters and knives seized as evidence
Five men were arrested in Hong Kong on Tuesday in connection with separate incidents of slashed seats on KMB buses.
The five suspects, aged 22 to 52, were picked up in Tseung Kwan O, Tsuen Wan, Lai Chi Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui in a series of raids that began at 8am. Sharp objects such as cutters and knives were seized in the operation.
The arrests followed a two-week spate of vandalism on vehicles belonging to the city’s biggest bus company, with police investigating another case of criminal damage after white paint was found daubed on a bus seat on Tuesday.
Superintendent Ewing Wu Ka-yan said police had received 10 reports of slashed bus seats in the Kowloon East region this month and that the cases involved different routes.
He said initial investigation showed the suspects – three Chinese men and two of Pakistani origin – were behind five of the 10 cases, which had been classified as criminal damage.
Two of the men knew each other and were thought to have acted together but there was no evidence to show there was any relationship between all five, according to the superintendent.
The slashing incidents were not “well-organised or premeditated” and did not have any specific target, Wu said, adding police were still investigating the motive behind each case.
He warned that slashing bus seats was an act of criminal damage that carried a maximum penalty of 10 years’ jail.
Police were still checking the total number of reports of bus seat slashings across the city, he added.
Officers, meanwhile, were called in at about 2.30am after a 15cm (6 inch) by 15cm patch of paint was found on a seat on the upper deck of a KMB route N216 double-decker at the bus terminal on Cheong Wan Road in Hung Hom.
A KMB spokeswoman said the driver had detected a strong smell of paint thinner as he was travelling along Nathan Road in Jordan at about 2.10am. The bus had been running from Yau Tong to Hung Hom. When the vehicle arrived at the terminal, the driver conducted a sweep of the bus and found white paint on the seat, the spokeswoman added.
“The bus has surveillance cameras, and the footage will be handed over to police. We will fully assist police in the investigation,” she said.
A police spokesman said the case had been classified as criminal damage.
KMB deputy operations director Patrick Pang Shu-hung thanked police for their speedy arrests in connection with the slashing cases.
He said the bus company had already reminded frontline staff including drivers to step up checks of buses before they started on their journeys.
He also appealed to the public to alert drivers and make a report to police if they encountered anything suspicious or anyone acting suspiciously on a bus.
KMB was recently plagued by a series of incidents in which needles were found on its buses. Last Wednesday, Mok Cham-sum, 30, was arrested in connection with three of the cases. He was charged with three counts of wounding and one count of attempted wounding and appeared at Sha Tin Court on Saturday. He was remanded in custody, and the case was adjourned to July 17.
Last week, a number of seats on KMB buses were slashed.
Two cases were reported on Saturday involving buses on routes 43B and 39M. Seats were found to have been cut open when the vehicles arrived at Tsuen Wan West MTR station and Allway Garden bus terminals in Tsuen Wan.
Another two KMB double-deckers, both on route 98C, were targeted by vandals, who slashed several seats at Lai Chi Kok and smashed a windscreen in Tseung Kwan O on Sunday.