A man clad in black stole a national flag from the flagpole at Hong Kong’s Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai before daybreak on Friday, sparking a police manhunt for the thief. Officers were dispatched to the promenade outside the Convention and Exhibition Centre, site of ceremonies earlier this month marking the city’s 1997 handover from British to Chinese sovereignty, soon after 5am after receiving a report from a security guard. The 51-year-old guard gave chase after discovering the theft, according to the force. “During the pursuit, the suspect produced a paper cutter. He subsequently escaped,” a spokesman said. Police scouted the area, but no arrest was made. According to police, the suspect is a Chinese man who was wearing a black shirt and black trousers at the time of the incident. Officers checked security camera footage in an effort to identity the suspect and gather evidence. Theft carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail under Hong Kong law, while in recent weeks, anti-government protesters have received jail sentences for the act of desecrating the national flag. According to official figures, police handled 5,473 reports of theft in the first three months of this year, up 10.4 per cent from 4,959 in the same period last year.