Thief Attempts Robbery in Hong Kong Over Gambling Debt, Makes Huge Mistake

A man in Hong Kong wanted to pick up some extra cash, so he thought a quick robbery would do the trick. As police would find out later, he needed the money to cover gambling debts. But his modus operandi included one step that would instantly trip him up.

Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong police on patrol. They were recently able to solve an easy crime after a thief left behind his ID after attacking his victim. (Image: The Japan Times)

The South China Morning Post reported that the man attacked a nurse outside the Haven of Hope Hospital in Tseung Kwan O after she finished her shift. He grabbed her from behind and attempted to steal her purse and watch.

A bystander saw the struggle and tried to intervene. The attacker made his escape, but left a huge clue behind that made it easy for police to track him down.

Not the Caper of the Century

The unidentified bystander gave chase, but the robber got away. It didn’t matter, however, since he had dropped his wallet at the scene. Inside was his identification, giving the police all the ammo they needed.

Police didn’t have to go far to find him, either, as he reportedly only lived about 500 meters (1,640 feet) from the hospital. Police officers immediately paid him a visit and brought a swift resolution to the case. He has not been identified.

In his apartment, the officers found the victim’s purse and her watch. The robber had dumped her belongings en route to his hideout, so she, fortunately, was able to recover everything.

As the officers questioned the 34-year-old criminal, they learned that he launched the attack in order to pay his gambling debts. It isn’t clear how much debt he had, but the amount he stole probably wouldn’t have carried him very far. The nurse reportedly had only about HK$4,000 (US$512) on her at the time.

Theft is a serious crime in Hong Kong – even robberies that investigators can solve in under five minutes. However, according to the SCMP, prosecutors still haven’t charged him. When they do, it’s not likely they will seek life behind bars, the maximum penalty available.

Hong Kong Cracks Down on Gambling

Almost all forms of gambling are illegal in Hong Kong, which alongside Macau, is one of two China-controlled special autonomous regions. Only some horse racing, soccer betting, and lottery options have government approval.

As a result, illegal gambling has been big business in the territory, run mainly by Chinese-led triads. The Hong Kong government is trying to eradicate the criminal organizations, but faces an uphill battle.

Between October and December, Hong Kong authorities arrested more than 1,600 people they said had ties to triad operations. Many, they said, were high-ranking officials within those gangs.

In December, police raided 119 locations they had identified as conducting illegal gambling. In addition, during the World Cup in November and December, they arrested 789 involved in illegal sports betting.

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