Hong Kong man arrested for suspected theft of two ‘comfort women’ statues
Passer-by called police after seeing suspect pushing trolley loaded with statues, donation boxes and chairs
Police arrested a 51-year-old man in the early hours of Thursday on suspicion of stealing two “comfort women” statues placed near the Japanese consulate in Hong Kong.
The incident happened on the Connaught Road Central footbridge near Exchange Square in the city’s financial centre at about 12.45am. The office of the consulate is in One Exchange Square.
The fibreglass statues representing Chinese and Korean women – each weighing 32kg – were placed there, along with donation boxes and chairs, by the Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands group since July to mark the start of hostilities between China and Japan in 1937.
The activist group wanted them to serve as a reminder to the public of the Asian women used as sex slaves by the Japanese army during the second world war.
Police said a passer-by made a 999 emergency call after the suspect was seen in the area pushing a trolley loaded with the statues, two donation boxes and two chairs.
A police spokeswoman said the man was intercepted by officers at Connaught Place, a short distance from the crime scene, and the stolen items had been recovered.
Officers arrested the suspect – a Hong Kong identity card holder – for theft. He is being held for questioning and has not been charged. Detectives from Central police district are handling the case.
Separately, three men aged between 37 and 48 were arrested for stealing 50 gratings used to cover the drains in a Mui Shu Hang Road park in Tai Po at about 4am on Thursday. Police said the haul was worth about HK$10,000 (US$1,280).
Officers also impounded a car, a truck, an electric tricycle and a trolley.
The three Hongkongers were detained at Tai Po police station for questioning and have not been charged.
Official figures show police handled 23,806 reports of theft last year, down 7.1 per cent compared with 25,628 in 2016.