Hong Kong woman’s New Year holiday homecoming ruined by thieves, as burglaries rise across the city

Clifford Lo

A Hong Kong woman was shocked to return from her New Year holiday on Friday to find her home burgled and thousands of dollars worth of valuables stolen.

Arriving home around 9am, the 52-year-old discovered that HK$75,000 worth of valuables had been stolen from her first-floor flat at Laurna Villa in Fo Tan.

“A diamond ring worth about HK$20,000 was stolen along with HK$55,000 in foreign currency from a drawer in the victim’s bedroom,” a police spokesman said.

Police said it was possible the burglar climbed into the flat through the bedroom window, which was prised open. Surveillance footage showed a man, thought to be aged between 30 and 50 and wearing a cap and dark-coloured pants, climbing over the surrounding wall of the residential estate. The Sha Tin criminal investigation unit was yet to make any arrests.

Laurna Villa on Lok Yuen Path in Fo Tan, where a woman’s house was burgled on Friday. Photo: Google Map

The burglary was one of four separate cases reported across the city within 10 hours on Friday morning.

At a Ma Tau Wai Road flat in To Kwa Wan, a 27-year-old man returned home around midnight to find his front door prised open and his home ransacked. Police later said a watch worth HK$600 was stolen.

Six hours later, police received another call about a burglary at The Wonderland in Tai Po, where HK$4,000 and two computers worth HK$24,000 were stolen.

In Shanghai Street, Mong Kok, a 32-year-old man called police at 9.42am, saying his father’s home had been burgled. Police said HK$13,500 worth of valuables, including two cameras were stolen.

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Hong Kong saw a sharp rise in reports of burglary and robbery in the second half of 2019, with police blaming the ongoing anti-government protests for exhausting their resources.

In the lead up to New Year, on December 27, four houses in Tuen Mun were burgled with one homeowner losing eight luxury watches valued at HK$1.5 million (US$193,000). On New Year’s Eve, police were called to a high-end residential building in Repulse Bay where a flat had been ransacked.

Police handled 2,056 reports of burglary in the first 11 months of 2019, up 44 per cent from 1,428 in the same period of 2018. Robberies increased by nearly 28 per cent to 170 in the first 11 months of 2019 from 133 in the same period of 2018.

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Hong Kong Police stopped foot patrols across the city in August, because of the civil unrest and perceived risk of attacks on officers. They have instead been patrolling only in vans.

The city’s annual winter crime-fighting operation, carried out between the Christmas and New Year period, was also cancelled because of police resources being tied up with the protests, which were sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill and have been ongoing for nearly seven months.

Chief Superintendent Kenneth Kwok Ka-chuen of the force’s public relations branch said last week that police recorded the lowest crime rate in 44 years in 2018, but the violence of rioters had pushed the city’s rule of law to the brink of total collapse.

This article Hong Kong woman’s New Year holiday homecoming ruined by thieves, as burglaries rise across the city first appeared on South China Morning Post

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