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Hong Kong courts

Hong Kong policeman gets 34 months’ jail for HK$130,000 restaurant burglaries – while out on bail

Chan Hiu-kin stole cash, 144 cans of milk and 141 boxes of medicine

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 September, 2018, 7:34pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 September, 2018, 7:34pm

A police officer who admitted to stealing more than HK$130,000 (US$16,500) worth of milk powder, medicine and cash from seven Hong Kong restaurants and pharmacies was jailed for 34 months on Wednesday.

The District Court heard how Chan Hiu-kin, 35, had stolen 144 cans of milk and 141 boxes of medicine from two pharmacies last September while on police bail following his arrest over five restaurant burglaries between 2015 and January last year.

The detective police constable has since repaid all seven victims, but the milk powder and medicine have not been recovered.

Defence counsel Clement Lau said Chan had “chosen the wrong way” to deal with financial difficulties arising from feeding two young daughters and repaying a mortgage and car loan.

“He felt sorry for the consequences which affected his family,” Lau said. “I urge this court to pass the most lenient sentence.”

But district judge Isaac Tam Sze-lok countered that the case was aggravated by the fact Chan, as a serving police officer, had committed multiple offences, even while on police bail.

Chan’s indiscretions also took place at the same time as he attempted to defraud the police credit unit into granting three loans of about HK$60,000 by concealing outstanding debts with other financial institutions. For that offence he was jailed in August for four months at Stanley Prison.

“If I were to sentence the defendant on that case and the present case, I would have adopted a starting point of four years and nine months after considering totality,” the judge said.

But Chan’s jail term was eventually reduced by a third to account for his timely guilty plea to five counts of burglary and two of theft. Three other charges of burglary and theft were left on court file.

He is currently suspended from his post as a detective attached to the regional crime unit for West Kowloon, and was expected to lose his benefits.

The court heard how Chan had joined the police force in 2005 after graduating from a Polytechnic University associate degree course in June of that year.

His offences were first discovered when a cashier at Tomato House restaurant in Tsuen Wan returned to work on April 7, 2015 to find two drawers and the switch box for an electronic shutter had been prised open.

A camera, valued at HK$3,000, along with HK$7,200 in cash, were stolen.

Closed-circuit television captured Chan ransacking the area, and his palm print was found on a chair behind the cashier counter.

But Chan was not arrested until after his fifth burglary, in Yuen Long, when investigators tracked his car using CCTV and found it was registered under his wife’s name.

A search of the car boot yielded a black bag carrying a face mask, a glove, a pair of glasses, three screwdrivers, a spanner and some clothes.

Chan also committed two thefts in four days last September while on police bail.

His seven victims collectively lost HK$138,671.

He was finally arrested on October 3 last year.