Hong Kong police

Patrols and intelligence exchange to be ramped up in wake of high-profile robberies, Hong Kong police chief says

Police commissioner Stephen Lo addresses fears over recent brazen cases, saying robbery rate is at a record low and vowing better communication with the public

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 July, 2018, 6:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 23 July, 2018, 11:30pm

Officers would step up patrols and intelligence exchanges in the wake of a series of high-profile robberies in Hong Kong, the police commissioner said on Monday.

Stephen Lo Wai-chung also reassured the public that the incidence of such crimes was at its lowest in almost 50 years.

His remarks came a day after it was announced that nine more suspects had been arrested in a joint operation with Shenzhen police over a HK$23.1 million smash-and-grab raid in Tsim Sha Tsui on July 1.

Stolen items recovered by mainland police from Longgang district in Shenzhen included 12 luxury watches and other goods, along with HK$1.74 million in cash.

Among those held were three Hong Kong residents. The latest arrest brought the total number of suspects identified over the July 1 incident to 13.

In a separate case, a 52-year-old mainlander was on Sunday robbed of 900,000 yuan (HK$1.04 million) by a group of four men outside Lok Ma Chau checkpoint in Hong Kong.

The city recorded 59 robberies in the first four months of the year, compared with 163 in 2017 and 260 in 2016.

Nine more arrested over HK$23.1 million smash-and-grab raid on July 1

But Tsim Sha Tsui, a bustling shopping district, has seen at least 14 robberies in the past 16 months, including four smash-and-grab jewellery raids.

In May for example, two thieves made off with valuables worth HK$5.47 million from a jewellery shop in Harbour City shopping centre in just 27 seconds. A 60-year-old man has been charged over that case.

Despite the wave of brazen robberies, Lo said the city remained very safe as Hong Kong over the past year saw the lowest number of such cases since 1969, with the crime rate at a record low.

“The latest two jewellery raids showed that Hong Kong police absorbed intelligence on the cases within a very short period of time and took action,” Lo, who was attending a book fair in Wan Chai, told reporters.

Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui – the shoppers’ and robbers’ paradise in Hong Kong

“Members of the public do not need to be too anxious as we will step up patrols at black spots and strengthen intelligence exchange.”

Lo also thanked his mainland counterparts for their efforts in the joint operation.

One of the biggest street robberies in Hong Kong came in February in broad daylight, when a gang ambushed five men carrying suitcases containing more than 450 million Japanese yen (HK$32 million) on Carnarvon Road.

I try not to take everything people say to heart, especially when some citizens hold misunderstandings about police
Stephen Lo, police chief

Police later recovered the money after intercepting the robbers’ getaway car on a flyover outside Mei Foo Sun Chuen housing estate in Lai Chi Kok.

At Monday’s book fair, Lo shared with young audience members three of his favourite books, including one called Crisis Communication: Practical PR Strategies for Reputation Management and Company Survival by Peter Frans Anthonissen.

Lo said that understanding between the police and public could be improved through “genuine and open communication”.

“As the leader [of the police force], I try not to take everything people say to heart, especially when some citizens hold misunderstandings about police. My way is to face them bravely without flinching, and try to find a better way to communicate,” he said.

Gang snatches HK$32 million in ambush on money exchange staff on busy street

Lo also recommended the book I Speak for China – Selected Speeches of Fu Ying, a collection of speeches given by China’s former vice foreign affairs minister. He said he appreciated how Fu was able to “introduce the complicated situations in China to the world in simple words”, adding that young people could benefit from the history told in the book as well as communication techniques depicted.