A 66-year-old worker at a makeshift refuelling station in Hong Kong was robbed at knifepoint for the third night in a row, with three men stealing HK$1,000 (US$128) in the early hours of Monday.
The worker – Kwan Chung-chow – was held up under the Ching Cheong Road flyover in Cheung Sha Wan.
Police said HK$17,700 was taken in the previous two incidents in the early hours of Saturday and Sunday. A police source said each robbery involved three men, whose descriptions were similar in all three cases.
He said detectives from the Sham Shui Po criminal investigation unit were looking into whether the same gang was behind the three cases.
Three young robbers make off with HK$1,000 from a makeshift refuelling station in Cheung Sha Wan after threatening a 66-year-old man with a knife on Monday pic.twitter.com/VRCXU5BeBo
— SCMP Hong Kong (@SCMPHongKong) January 13, 2020
The Fire Services Department said the illicit refuelling station was a black spot under its surveillance. Five prosecutions in connection with dangerous goods and fire safety were raised in the past two years during 28 inspections, with 2,475 litres of diesel seized.
The department said a surprise inspection on Monday detected an illegal transfer of fuel from a tanker. A prosecution would be raised, it added.
Surveillance camera footage showed the trio robbing the station shortly after 12.30am on Monday.
“Take out all the money,” they ordered Kwan.
He was forced to hand over the cash and open all the drawers of his table. Two of the culprits were armed with knives while the third man carried a bag that was used to collect the money.
One of the robbers, who was wearing a hoodie, pointed his knife at Kwan, threatening him while asking whether there was a safe hidden in the station. No safe was found there.
The thieves also took the victim’s mobile phone before they fled on foot.
Kwan called police about the robbery at 12.42am. Officers scouted the area, but no arrests were made.
The pump price of diesel is nearly HK$15 (US$1.90) per litre but on the black market it costs about HK$6 (US$0.80), according to a government source.
As the government waived the duty on Euro V diesel in July 2008, the distribution, retail and purchase of black-market fuel is not in breach of the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance.
But the source said illegal storage of diesel contravened the Dangerous Goods Ordinance and the Fire Services Department would enforce the law.
Meanwhile, police aired concerns about a spate of crimes involving young suspects over the past week. The cases included a HK$10 million cash heist in Tsim Sha Tsui and a raid on a cake shop in Cheung Sha Wan using corrosive liquid and petrol bombs. The force called on parents and schools to find out more about young people and not to let them go astray.
In Hong Kong, there was a significant rise in reports of robbery in the second half of last year, with the force blaming the anti-government protests for exhausting police resources. Police handled 170 reports of robbery from January to November, up nearly 28 per cent from 133 in the same period of 2018.
Since August, police have stopped foot patrols because of the civil unrest and backlash against the force. Patrols are now conducted in police vans.
Additional reporting by Danny Mok
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