HK$22 million gone in 5 minutes: robbers posing as customers snatch jade and diamond necklace from Hong Kong jewellery store, flee in getaway car
- Two men enter Emperor Watch and Jewellery shop on Canton Road, pretending to be customers before snatching item and fleeing in getaway car
- Vehicle found abandoned on Man Wai Street about 2km away and officers hunt for three suspects
A jade and diamond necklace worth as much as HK$22 million (US$2.8 million) was stolen from a jewellery store in Hong Kong’s busy Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district on Monday, sparking a citywide police search for at least three suspects.
The two criminals, wearing face masks made ubiquitous by Covid-19, entered the ground-floor Emperor Watch and Jewellery shop on Canton Road near the junction of Peking Road at 12.10pm, police said. A force insider said they told an employee in English they intended to buy the necklace and asked to examine it first.
“When the employee presented the pair the necklace, one of the men drew out a 50cm-long knife from a bag and threatened the staff member with the weapon and stole the necklace,” said Chief Inspector Yau Yu-sing of Yau Tsim district crime squad.
The two culprits were inside the shop for a total of about five minutes and as they bolted into a black Mazda car parked outside the store, one of the robbers dropped a power bank on the ground, the source said.
The necklace was the most expensive item in the display window and officers had learned the pair had visited the store last week to gather information for the robbery, the insider said.
Security camera footage posted online shows one of the criminals wearing a long-sleeve white shirt and the other a blazer and sports shoes, carrying a rucksack and the knife.
According to police, no one was injured in the incident.
A second source said police were told the necklace was worth HK$22 million and officers were still confirming its exact value.
Shortly before 2pm, the Mazda used as the getaway car was found abandoned on Man Wai Street in Yau Ma Tei, about 2km from the site of the robbery. Inside, officers found a knife, several work gloves and a rucksack.
Yau said the three culprits were last seen fleeing on foot in Yau Ma Tei, adding officers had checked security camera footage to gather evidence.
Officers from the force’s Identification Bureau collected fingerprints at the jewellery store and inside the vehicle.
As of Monday evening, the search for the robbers was still under way, he said.
According to the chief inspector, the three robbers are not Chinese and are thought to be aged between 30 and 40 and between 1.7 metres (5 feet and 8 inches) and 1.75 metres in height.
Yau said one of them had his hair wrapped with a black towel during the robbery.
Anyone with information on the case can contact police at 3661 9314.
The force’s figures show the number of robberies have dropped sharply from 3,167 in 2001 to 123 last year. Police handled 41 robberies across the city between January and June this year, down 39 per cent from the 67 cases logged in the same period last year. The detection rate was 66 per cent.
There were 381 reports of burglary in the first six months of the year, down 48.6 per cent from the 741 in the same period in 2021. A total of 123 of the cases were solved and 139 people were arrested – a detection rate of 32 per cent.
The force in July said the detection rate for robberies and burglaries hit a record high since half-yearly figures were recorded from 1977.
Monday’s heist was the city’s second high-profile robbery in about six weeks. On August 30, four men armed with a hammer, a knife and what appeared to be a pistol made off with 70 luxury watches worth HK$13 million from a store in the Causeway Bay shopping district. Several days later, police arrested six people, recovered 36 of the stolen watches and seized an air gun and HK$230,000.
“The air gun’s magazine contained metal pellets,” Chief Inspector Cheung Ka-wing of the Hong Kong Island regional crime unit said at the time. He added the weapon would be sent for ballistic tests to determine if they could produce more than the legal limit of two joules in power.
In July 2018, four men carrying a hammer, a retractable baton and a knife stole HK$23.5 million worth of valuables from a jewellery store on Hankow Road in Tsim Sha Tsui in less than 90 seconds.
In September 2017, three thieves fled on a motorbike with HK$24 million worth of jewellery after smashing a store window with hammers in another jewellery store on Canton Road. The brazen smash-and-grab raid took just 10 seconds to execute.