Gone In 180 Seconds: Hong Kong Thieves Steal HK$6.5 Million In Watches In 3 Minutes

When one thinks Hong Kong, one usually imagines overlevered opulence, nouveau riche wealth, shady backroom deals hashed out in a cigar smoke mist and the occasional opium den. One does not usually think bad Nicholas Cage spinoffs. Yet that is precisely what happened last week at a luxury watch store at the Oriental Watch outlet in an arcade at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile on Mody Road in Hong Kong, when thieves struck in a smash-and-grab that took three thieves just three minutes, and stole 240 Tudor watches valued at HK$6.5 million (USD $840K).

The thieves struck at 6.20 am after entering the arcade via the back entrance, when they used large hammers to shatter the glass door of the shop
before smashing open three display cabinets and scooping up the watches.

“The robbers appear to be professionals, judging by the speed of the burglary and the method employed,” said chief inspector Ma Kai-keung of the Kowloon West Regional Headquarters.

Surveillance video shows the three men in masks, caps and gloves entering the arcade by a rear entrance at about 6.20am.

As SCMP reports, despite the noise of breaking glass, security guards were alerted to the break-in only when an alarm went off about 10 minutes later. Officers said initial checks showed the alarm system had not been tampered with. A hammer and a shopping trolley, believed to have been used to carry the break-in tools, were left behind.

The burglars fled along Mody Road, got into a grey van at the junction with Bristol Avenue and drove off in the direction of Chatham Road South. Police said they were Chinese aged about 40 and roughly 1.7 metres tall. The Oriental Watch outlet sells only Rolex and Tudor watches, according to the company’s website. Only the Tudor watches were taken, however, as the Rolexes were locked in a vault when the raiders struck, police said.

This is not the first time the Hong Kong minutemen have struck:

On July 8, a jewellery store in Sheung Shui was raided by thieves using hammers carried in a shopping trolley. They made off with HK$500,000 worth of goods in one minute. And on June 11, three thieves got away with HK$3.1 million worth of valuables from a jewellery shop on Mody Road, with the help of a bucket of water and two crowbars. They plunged the alarm in the water to silence it, smashed the cabinets and took their loot, all in just a couple of minutes.

Of course, it would be ironic if the watches were all fakes to begin with, and the theft was nothing more than a scam to rip off the insurance company.

But perhaps most notable is that even the metropolitan pinnacle of China-related wealth is now becoming plagued by petty street-level crime. One can only imagine the high-level theft that must be taking behind the scenes, now that the happy days of a credit-happy China are long gone and thieves are forced to rob Rolex stores. Especially since one doesn’t need 3 minutes to transfer billions electronically from bank A to bank B. A few milliseconds usually suffice.


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