Police have warned bus commuters to look out for thieves from mainland China armed with razor blades who slash open the pockets of unsuspecting victims playing with their mobiles or dozing.
At least five passengers have had valuables and money cut out of their pockets in Sham Shui Po, Kowloon City, Mong Kok and Wong Tai Sin over the past few weeks.
They each lost HK$600 to HK$5,000 and only realised they had been attacked when they got off the bus and found their clothes had been slashed, a police source said.
“They are professional thieves and none of the victims suffered injury. In one case culprits stole a wallet from a slashed pocket and put the empty wallet back,” he said.
He said the gang were probably trained in their hometown on the mainland before coming to Hong Kong to steal.
“They usually work in a pair. One of them sits next to their target on the bus while the other sits behind them and acts as lookout,” the source said.
The thefts came to light after two mainlanders were caught red-handed on a double-decker in Mong Kok on Tuesday when one of them cut open the trouser pocket of a 57-year-old male passenger in an attempt to steal his wallet containing HK$7,100.
The two men, both aged 43 who arrived in Hong Kong on Sunday, were under surveillance and tailed by plainclothes officers after being spotted acting suspiciously in Public Square Street, Yau Ma Tei, at about 1.30pm. Officers followed them as they boarded the bus.
The thieves struck when the bus reached Cherry Street in Mong Kok but were subdued by police. Officers seized 11 razor blades from one of the suspects.
A police spokesman said they believed one of the suspects was linked to four similar cases involving the theft of HK$12,000. The incidents occurred between January and earlier this month in Kowloon City, Mong Kok, Sham Shui Po and Wong Tai Sin.
The suspects were each charged with one count of theft and will appear in West Kowloon court on Thursday.
Police urged the public to stay alert for pickpockets and safeguard their valuables and belongings.