IT was a not-so-merry Christmas for many Hong Kongers this year as thieves ransacked the homes of scores of city dwellers and made off with millions of dollars worth of cash and valuables.
According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), more than 40 reports of burglaries were lodged since Christmas eve on Saturday, renewing fears in the region over a crime spate targeting homes of the elite.
Police were quoted as saying that one 58-year-old woman known only by her surname Cheng claimed she had HK$3 million (US$380,000) taken from her house in Castle Peak, Tuen Mun, on Christmas day.
It is believed that the thieves broke into her home while she was inside having a Christmas party with her family.
SCMP’s report said some HK$13,000 (US$1,700) worth of cash and gold coins were also reported stolen from an adjacent property on the same night.
Elsewhere, residents of a number of New Territories villages also reported break-ins at their homes.
Also on Christmas night, jewellery worth an estimated HK$520,000 (US$67,000) was stolen from a house in Ha Mei Sun Yuen Long. Three homes in Sheung Shui were reportedly also broken into on Boxing Day, Dec 26, and cash and jewellery valued at HK$12,000 (US$1,500) were stolen.
Last week, SCMP reported that high-end household burglaries in Hong Kong spiked by a significant 50 percent in 2016, prompting local police to call for closer cooperation with their mainland counterparts to stop the crime spate.
Burglary steals the spotlight for Hong Kong crimes – South China Morning Post https://t.co/PpPI8s4Io7
— Hong Kong daily (@HongKongdaily) December 21, 2016
The report citing police figures said although the number of home break-ins for the first 10 months of the year declined in overall by 7.2 percent, the total sum of reported losses saw a dramatic increase as robbers were raking in a much larger haul for each hit.
It said the total amount of reported losses went from HK94.6 million last year to HK$139.9 million in 2016.
“We noticed a rise in domestic burglaries that involved more than HK$500,000 in losses per case.
“There were a total of 42 such cases (in the first 10 months of the year), 14 cases more compared with the figure for the same period last year, Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung was quoted in SCMP as saying in the report.
— Hong Kong Stream (@hkstream) September 26, 2016
One of the more recent high-profile burglaries was the case involving the property of tycoon Cecil Chao Sze-tsung in November. According to reports, burglars made off with more than HK$200,000 (US$26,000) in cash and jewellery in a daring break-in at Chao’s “Villa Cecil” in Pok Fu Lam. It was the second time in just nine months that the sprawling estate was hit by robbers.
Also last month, the Repulse Bay home belonging to the granddaughter of the late Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang was broken into and some HK$2.3 million (US$297,000) in cash and valuables were taken.