Hong Kong police were on Friday searching for at least four masked robbers who injured a shopworker with a knife before making off with a haul of watches in Mong Kok.
The hold-up at 5pm on Fa Yuen Street was the latest incident in a sharp uptick in the number of robberies reported during the last six months of anti-government protests.
A police spokesman said four masked robbers carrying a knife and a hammer rushed into the shop and injured an employee before fleeing with the valuables.
Online video footage showed one of the robbers grabbing watches and stuffing them into his rucksack before fleeing with the other burglars.
The employee suffered knife wounds in the arm and ear and was conscious when taken to Kwong Wah Hospital for treatment. Police officers searched the area but no arrests were made.
Video footage online shows at least four masked robbers, armed with a knife and a hammer, make off with watches from a shop in Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kok, on Friday pic.twitter.com/G5p4ZY4ewH
— SCMP Hong Kong (@SCMPHongKong) December 13, 2019
As of Friday night, the police were still determining the value of the stolen merchandise. Detectives from the Mong Kok criminal investigation squad were assigned to handle the case.
There was about one robbery per day in October, according to the police, up from one robbery report every two to three days in 2018. Police handled 28 reports of robbery in October.
A police source said criminals had taken advantage of the shortage of officers created by the protest crisis, citing an increase in break-ins at homes, offices and shops across the city.
Since August, local police have stopped patrolling city streets on foot because of the presence of radical protesters and the perceived risk of being attacked. Officers now patrol the streets in police vans.
The months of social unrest began in June, initially in response to the now-withdrawn extradition bill, which would have allowed the transfer of criminal suspects to mainland China and other jurisdictions with which Hong Kong lacks a handover agreement.
As of December 9, police had arrested more than 6,000 people for protest-related offences, including rioting, unlawful assembly, arson and weapons possession.
This article Armed gang loots Mong Kok watch shop as robberies spike during Hong Kong’s protest crisis first appeared on South China Morning Post