Hong Kong police launch counter-insurgency operation – to root out burglars on The Peak

Uniformed and plain-clothes officers from the force’s Emergency Unit and ­Police Tactical Unit are deployed in the high-class area after 11 reported burglaries this year

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 May, 2016, 11:55pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 May, 2016, 12:27pm

Helicopter surveillance, camouflaged officers lying in wait and a campaign to win hearts and minds.

Hong Kong police have launched something akin to a counter-insurgency campaign for a jungle war in a bid to ensure residents of The Peak – the city’s most expensive residential district – feel safe in their beds in the wake of a spate of robberies.

Jewellery and watches stolen in burglary on The Peak

The force will deploy a Government Flying Service helicopter to carry out eye-in-the-sky anti-crime sorties, position camouflaged officers in the undergrowth after dark and appeal to residents to take the security of their homes to heart, it emerged yesterday.

Details of the anti-crime crackdown were revealed by Peak Police Station senior inspector Vevina Chan Shuk-ping, who said it was in response to a spate of 11 burglaries on The Peak so far this year, four more than in the whole of 2015.

The mini crime spree, in which the total cash value lost amounted to what police sources told the South China Morning Post was “not that much”, forms just 7 per cent of the total number of burglaries on the whole of Hong Kong Island – 157 – so far this year.

Chan said at least two burglary gangs were behind the recent ­robberies.

“Culprits carrying cameras may pose as tourists to scout around and take photographs of their targets in the daytime before returning to strike at night while residents are asleep,” she said. “Some of the cases also happened during long public holidays when tenants were out of town.”

Patrols by uniformed and plain-clothes officers from the force’s Emergency Unit and ­Police Tactical Unit have been boosted on The Peak, and camouflaged officers will also be ­deployed to carry out surveillance and special operations, especially at night.

“They will hide in undergrowth and lie in wait for burglars,” a source with knowledge of the operation said.

On Sunday, three burglars ­escaped with a HK$250,000 watch from a Lugard Road house after a foreign domestic helper interrupted them as they tried to break open a safe. The resident family were having dinner in the house at the time.

Chinese man arrested after HSBC Asia chief reports theft of HK$2.45m from luxury Hong Kong home on The Peak

That came a week after a safe containing cash and valuables worth more than HK$600,000 was stolen from a 70-year-old house on Barker Road which became the second most expensive property in the world, per square foot, when it sold for HK$1.5 billion in August last year.

So far, no arrests have been made in the two cases.

Residents in the neighbourhood include Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the United States consul general in Hong Kong, Clifford Hart, and entrepreneur-cum-lawmaker James Tien Pei-chun.

Police appealed to residents and security staff on Thursday to stay alert, ensure their security systems were in working order and improve security if necessary.

Separately, a 38-year-old mainland illegal immigrant ­suspected of stealing more than HK$20,000 in foreign currency and valuables from a Repulse Bay house on Monday was arrested by police in North Point on ­Tuesday.

Police believe the man is linked with another 14 reported burglaries in Repulse Bay and Happy Valley between 2009 and 2013.

The 157 reports of burglaries on Hong Kong Island so far this year mark nearly a 25 per cent rise on the same period last year.