Bungled robbery at Hong Kong money exchange sparks police hunt


A citywide police manhunt is under way for an armed black-clad robber who fled empty-handed from a money exchange store in northern Hong Kong after its female owner managed to run out of the shop, shouting for help.

The bungled hold-up on Tuesday took place at the Grand Money Exchange shop on Luen Hing Street in Fanling soon after 8.30am when the 58-year-old woman was opening the metal gate. It was the second robbery in the area in a week.

Last Tuesday, a smash-and-grab gang made off with about HK$1 million (US$108,191) worth of valuables from a jewellery store on Wo Fung Street – less than 100 metres from the money changer.

“The robber pushed her into the shop from behind, threatened her with a box cutter and ordered her to open a safe,” a police source said.

But the key for the safe was attached to the door key, which had been left in the gate’s keyhole, he added.

“When the victim went to get the key, she managed to run out of the shop, shouting for help and alerting passers-by,” the source said. “At this juncture, the robber fled empty-handed from the shop.”

Officers combed the area, but no arrest was made.

The robber is a Chinese man who is believed to be aged between 20 and 30 and about 1.8 metres tall. He was wearing a grey cap, a blue surgical mask and black clothing at the time of the incident.

The woman suffered minor hand injuries, according to police. She was bandaged at the scene but did not require treatment in hospital.

Detectives from the Tai Po criminal investigation unit are handling the case.

On August 15, a masked man fled with more than HK$180,000 in local and mainland currencies from a Yuen Long money changer in an audacious daylight hold-up after he used a hammer to break open the metal gate to gain access. Five days later,police arrested a debt-ridden man in connection with the case.

The city has recorded a sharp rise in reports of robbery this year. Police figures show there were 186 robberies in the first half of this year, up 322 per cent from 44 in the same period last year.

On August 12, a gang of thieves assaulted and threatened a 27-year-old man with a knife to steal HK$630,000 from him during a street deal for the purchase of three Rolex watches that turned sour in a Tai Po village.

It was the city’s fourth such street mugging in three weeks.

On August 5, two robbers slashed a 48-year-old man and snatched his HK$270,000 Rolex watch in Tai Wai MTR station in Sha Tin.

On July 24, a watch store owner was robbed of a limited-edition Richard Mille timepiece worth HK$1.4 million in an attack by four men in Tsim Sha Tsui. The following day, a 23-year-old man was assaulted and robbed of a watch of the same brand worth HK$1.6 million in Tin Shui Wai.

Source: SCMP