Hong Kong police storm suspected mainland gang members’ hideout after string of high-end robberies

Officers seize HK$100,000 in currency, HK$200,000 worth of watches, gold ornaments and valuables

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 April, 2017, 3:14pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 April, 2017, 3:17am

Police raided two hotel rooms in Tin Shui Wai before dawn on Friday to arrest three mainlanders suspected to be burglars hired to break into luxury Hong Kong homes.

Inside the hotel rooms, officers seized about HK$110,000 in local and foreign currency and more than HK$300,000 worth of watches, gold ornaments and valuables. The goods were believed to have been stolen from two separate premises earlier this week.

Officers tracked down the suspected burglars to their hideout at Harbour Plaza Resort City on Tin Yan Road at about 5.30am on Friday.

“They refused to let us in and used their bodies to block the doors. Our officers had to break through the doors to enter the rooms and arrest them,” said Chief Inspector Chan Yan of the New Territories North regional crime unit.

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At the same time, police arrested a Hong Kong man, 51, in a Sha Tin flat and recovered a stolen Cartier watch from him.

Police believe the four suspects – three men and a woman – were members of a cross-border burglary syndicate which targeted high-end homes in Hong Kong.

Chan said the gang had a “clear division of work”: its “action squad” run by mainland members was tasked to break into homes, while a support group run by its Hong Kong partners was responsible for conducting reconnaissance, arranging accommodation for mainland members and selling stolen goods.

A police source said they were investigating whether the three mainland suspects – two of them illegal immigrants – were from a notorious rural gang in southern Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, where many villagers share the surname Wei.

One of the two illegal immigrants, a 29-year-old surnamed Wei, from Guangxi, arrived in the city from Shenzhen by boat on March 31. The other two suspects were a 42-year-old man from Heilongjiang province, who also entered the city illegally, and a 27-year-old woman from Ningxia Hui autonomous region.

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“It is possible the two men chose to enter Hong Kong through illegal channels in an effort to cover up their crimes in the city,” the source said.

Police believe they targeted luxury homes with lax security.

“Its Hong Kong members scouted their targets before mainland raiders were sent in,” the source said. “They usually struck during daylight or in the evening when occupants were not at home.”

Police are hunting for the gang’s masterminds and other members, believed to be criminals from both sides of the border.

Superintendent Li Kwai-wah said the gang was linked to at least two burglary cases in Tuen Mun and Wan Chai, where more than HK$1 million in cash and valuables was stolen On Monday and Thursday.

Further arrests were expected.

Friday’s crackdown was the latest in a string of theft-related arrests over the past three months.

In February, four men, also from Guangxi and thought to be behind a series of burglaries across the city, were arrested when they attempted to rob a house in Tseung Kwan O.

In January, an elite police unit was deployed to arrest three suspected burglars at a Pat Heung village house. About HK$5 million in cash, jewellery and valuables was recovered in the raid. Two of the three men were from Guangxi.

Household burglaries involving more than HK$500,000 in losses climbed from 31 cases in 2015 to 54 last year.