Hong Kong police foiled an armed robbery and arrested two men in the early hours of Monday.
The pair were detained on suspicion of planning to rob a Tsuen Wan convenience store with an air gun.
Officers patrolling the area spotted the pair acting suspiciously at the junction of Yeung Uk Road and Tai Ho Road just before 2am. They subsequently stopped and searched a local 50-year-old man, and a 48-year-old man from mainland China.
Police found a folding knife, a screwdriver, a balaclava, gloves and a face mask in a backpack the mainland man was carrying.
Inside the rucksack the local man was carrying, police seized an air handgun, a bag of metal pellets, a balaclava, gloves, and a face mask.
“Initial investigation showed the two suspects were on their way to rob at the time they were intercepted,” a police source said, adding their target was a convenience shop.
The mainland man is the holder of a two-way permit, a travel document issued by mainland authorities to enter Hong Kong. Police arrested him for conspiracy to rob.
His accomplice was arrested for conspiracy to rob and possessing an imitation firearm. Imitation guns can refer to toy guns, air guns, or guns used in war games.
As of 1pm, the two suspects were being held for questioning and had not been charged.
The source said police were still investigating whether the two suspects had been involved in a recent spate of robberies.
There has been a sharp rise in the number of robberies reported across Hong Kong in the past six months, as anti-government protests and violent clashes divert police resources.
Police handled 170 reports of robbery in the first 11 months of 2019, up nearly 28 per cent from 133 in the same period of 2018.
Since August, local police have stopped patrolling city streets on foot because of the protests and the perceived risk of being attacked. Instead, they have patrolled only in vans.
The annual winter crime-fighting operation, during the Christmas and New Year period, was also cancelled because of police resources being tied up with protests.
This article Hong Kong police foil convenience store armed robbery after early morning stop and search first appeared on South China Morning Post