Two Russian men arrested over theft of HK$29,000 Louis Vuitton handbag from Peninsula hotel, as police investigate ties with earlier case
- It was second case in three days, with first involving HK$240,000 handbag stolen from Chanel outlet in Admiralty
- Suspects believed to have shielded merchandise from scanners with aluminium foil
Two Russian tourists were arrested by Hong Kong police on Sunday, four hours after a handbag was reported stolen from a Louis Vuitton outlet at the five-star Peninsula hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Initial investigation indicated the HK$29,000 (US$3,720) handbag was put into a shopping bag lined with aluminium foil to prevent the shop’s scanners from detecting a security tag on the item, a police source said.
Crime squad officers were also looking into whether the two men were linked to another shoplifting case in which a HK$240,000 handbag was stolen from a Chanel store at Pacific Place shopping centre in Admiralty on Friday.
The source said police were investigating whether they were hired by the same shoplifting syndicate because their modus operandi was similar.
He said the first report of theft happened within 24 hours of the Russian tourists arriving in the city.
As of 1pm on Monday, the men, aged 36 and 44, were being held at Tsim Sha Tsui police station for questioning and had not been charged.
On Friday, officers were called to the Chanel store at Pacific Place shortly before 6pm after staff realised the HK$240,000 handbag was missing.
Initial information showed the handbag was stolen by two men who were also caught on security camera, according to the source.
He said the pair were thought to be aged about 40 and 1.8 metres (5 foot 11 inches) tall.
“One of them is white and the other is suspected to be South Asian,” he said.
Police were still looking into whether the white man was one of the Russians.
On Sunday, a HK$29,000 handbag was reported stolen from the Louis Vuitton outlet at the Peninsula hotel on Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui.
The handbag was stolen at about 4.30pm on Saturday and the Russian men were filmed on security camera, according to the source. “Initial investigation showed one of them worked as a lookout as the other stole the handbag,” he said.
Staff found the bag was missing when they were doing a stock take on Sunday. A report was made to police shortly after 2pm. Officers scouted the area, but no arrests were made.
At about 6pm, the men were caught after shop staff, who went for dinner, spotted the pair at the junction of Ashley Road and Peking Road in Tsim Sha Tsui and called police. The site is about 200 metres from the hotel.
The source said a shopping bag and a shoulder bag, which were lined with aluminium foil, were found on the men. So far, the stolen handbags have not been recovered.
Another source said it appeared the suspects targeted high-end merchandise.
“We are investigating whether the pair were hired by a shoplifting gang to come to Hong Kong and steal,” he said.
With the approach of the festive season, the source said police would enhance patrols by plain-clothes and uniformed officers to tackle quick cash crimes such as theft, pickpocketing and burglary across the city.
According to official statistics, police handled 4,032 reports of shop theft in the first six months of the year, down 13.6 per cent compared with 4,668 in the same period last year.