Man who swallowed diamonds in HK$89 million attempted robbery arrested as shopkeeper found unconscious

Jordanian national visiting city accused of kicking and punching victim

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 July, 2017, 5:00pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 July, 2017, 8:41am

A Middle Eastern man found no way out of a jewellery firm in Central shortly after he was said to have snatched HK$89 million worth of diamonds and swallowed some of them when he realised police were closing in.

The 22-year-old Jordanian man who has been in Hong Kong on a tourist visa since Wednesday was arrested in the middle of the alleged robbery at the office of M & B Diamonds, where he was also accused of beating up a female shopkeeper.

The incident happened in an office on the 16th floor of the Winway Building on Wellington Street at about 2.30pm Thursday.

Police said the victim, 38, was alone in the office when the man, who had been in the shop for some time, punched and kicked her while trying to open a safe belonging to the shop owner, a 32-year-old Israeli man.

Assistant Central district commander Andrew Cheng Dien-kit said the security system was triggered when the man opened the safe, from which he took 17 diamonds and US$8,600 in cash. The total haul was worth an estimated HK$89 million.

The system also locked the shop door. A security company was alerted, and it called the police.

Police, accompanied by the shop owner, arrived at the scene in about nine minutes and unlocked the door. They found the woman lying unconscious on the floor.

The suspect was found inside a store room. Eight diamonds weighing 132 carats in total and valued at US$5.4 million and the cash were found on him, Cheng said.

And police believed he might have swallowed the rest, which in total weighed 180 carats and were valued at US$6 million.

“We believe the missing nine pieces of diamonds were swallowed by the arrested person with some water,” Cheng said.

The suspect was taken to Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam, as was the woman. She was seen to have bruises on her face, which was swollen.

She later regained consciousness and was stated as stable on Thursday night.

Four men and one woman arrested in connection with strong-arm debt collection tactics

Cheng said the suspect had met the owner for business at the shop at about 11am. Police believed he was actually scouting the premises.

He left the shop but returned at about 1pm when two female shopkeepers were there. He assaulted the victim after the other female shopkeeper went out for lunch.

An initial investigation showed the man had acted on his own. The Central district crime squad was on the case.