A Hong Kong police officer took a measuring cup from a supermarket without paying because he was thinking about one of his nine cats spayed a day earlier, a court was told on Tuesday.
West Kowloon Court heard the cat was one of the nine reasons Shum Kim-wan, 55, gave to explain why he forgot there was a HK$37 (US$4.74) cup in his coat pocket when he walked out of Fusion supermarket in Discovery Bay on March 14.
Other reasons he gave included the effects of his medication for a nasal allergy, tiredness from a day’s work, and his wife’s WhatsApp message telling him to eat congee.
Shum, now retired after more than 30 years in the force, has denied one count of theft.
“I plead not guilty,” the retired constable said before the charge was read out to him.
Cheung Hoi-yan, an AS Watson Group security officer, testified he was patrolling the supermarket in plain clothes when he noticed Shum looking around with a measuring cup in his hand shortly after 5pm.
He said he watched Shum put the cup in a pocket of his green windbreaker and leave through an exit where there was no cashier, so he stopped the man outside the door.
A report was made to police after Shum explained he had been so focused on using his phone he forgot to pay, Cheung said.
When officers arrested him for shoplifting, Shum said: “The cat at my home was feeling unwell after the spay surgery, so when I was thinking about the cat, I forgot to pay.”
On Tuesday, Shum’s defence counsel Stephanie Ko Cho-wing argued he had no intention to steal as he was seen in CCTV footage walking around the supermarket with the cup and standing outside the shop for some time after the alleged theft.
Shum explained in court that he “just conveniently” placed the cup in his pocket as he needed both hands to examine a jar of nuts that was on sale, but forgot about it when he decided to go home to check on his cats. The cup was so light he could not feel it, he said.
Later he said he was thinking about his wife’s new medication for an organ transplant completed more than a decade ago, as well as his dog that died of bone cancer, and another cat in need of attention.
Shum testified he had decided against purchasing the cup, as his wife would scold him for buying it.
“I was a few months away from retirement, I was applying for an extension of work for 180 days,” he continued. “Would I affect that contract just for this measuring cup?”
Deputy Magistrate Peter Yu Chun-cheung will deliver his verdict on September 12.