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Crime in Hong Kong

Man, 57, arrested over armed robbery of Bank of East Asia 

Police had searched the city for hours before catching the suspect, who was seen on CCTV brazenly pointing what appeared to be a pistol at employees

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 February, 2018, 4:16pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 March, 2018, 8:21am

A 57-year-old man was arrested in Tin Shui Wai on Wednesday night for ­allegedly holding up the Bank of East Asia headquarters in Central before fleeing with tens of ­thousands of dollars. 

Police had searched the city for hours before catching the ­suspect, who was seen on CCTV brazenly pointing what appeared to be a pistol at employees. He was believed to have taken HK$70,000 in cash.

The jobless man, whose name was not released by police, was ­arrested at about 7.50pm in Tin Yan Estate, Tin Shui Wai, where officers recovered the cash and weapon which was confirmed to be an air gun. 

According to officers, staff at the bank – which is located at 10 Des Voeux Road in Central – ­reported the robbery to police at 3.32pm after a man made off with HK$70,000 from a counter.

Video footage showed the man wearing a black top during the robbery. A bank worker could be seen pulling piles of HK$20, HK$100 and HK$500 bills from a drawer and stashing the money in an orange plastic bag, while a colleague prepared more cash. The man snatched the bag and fled.

“We were notified that the man was holding what was suspected to be a pistol. He then fled towards the MTR station,” a ­police insider said.

Dozens of armed officers guarded the bank after the incident, while others searched for the suspect at the MTR station. Train services were unaffected.

This was not the suspect’s first brush with the law, according to police. 

In January 2016, he was ­arrested days after he was said to have stolen a golden chain worth about HK$23,000 from a Sham Shui Po jewellery shop. 

On that day, he walked into the shop to ask a shopkeeper to show him some gold. After he left without buying anything, the shop later realised the chain was gone. 

A police source also said the man was involved in an armed robbery at a Dao Heng Bank branch on Hennessy Road in April 1987.

He fired a shot at the bank before holding 6 people hostage on a minibus in a stand-off that lasted for eight hours. Before he got to the bus, police had fired twice at him, but missed.

He was sentenced to 16 years in prison for the heist.

The man was also jailed for 10 years in 2003 for robbing several prostitutes and injuring a man the previous year.

A spokeswoman for the railway operator said it had received notice from the railway police at 3.40pm, that officers needed to carry out operations at Central and Hong Kong stations.

“Train services remained unaffected,” the spokeswoman added.

Later Wednesday, the bank confirmed the robbery had taken place at its main branch. But it refused to confirm how much had been stolen, saying only it had “lost tens of thousands of Hong Kong dollars”.

The bank believes the robbery was an isolated incident
Bank of East Asia

“The case was immediately reported to police for their handling,” the bank said in a statement. “There were no injuries in this incident.

“The bank believes the robbery was an isolated incident and that security at our branches is adequate. However, we will continue to review our security on a regular basis and make adjustments as appropriate.”

The robbery came a week after the bank announced its profits rose by 151.1 per cent last year.

It is not the first time for a robbery at the Bank of East Asia.

In May 2016, a middle-aged Cantonese man tried to hold up a branch in Cheung Sha Wan but ended up fleeing empty-handed.

The man entered the bank wearing a cap, face mask and a pair of work gloves. He told the teller at the counter that it was a robbery and showed her a suspected black pistol. The man fled empty-handed when the teller went to seek help from her manager.

No bank robberies took place in the city last year, the force said. There were three cases in 2016.