A pickpocket who was convicted of theft after slicing victims’ trousers on buses was sentenced to 25 months’ in prison on Thursday.

According to Sing Tao Daily, 43-year-old Ma Ximing from mainland China successfully stole a wallet using the technique in October last year. He was caught when attempting to repeat the act less than a month later on a bus near Kwan Yick Building Phase II in Sai Wan.

sai wan
Kwan Yick Building Phase II. Photo: Google Street View.

Apple Daily reported in October that Ma, from Hunan, had attempted to slice open the right pocket of his victim with the assistance of two accomplices. After their attempt was foiled, the victim and two other passengers chased and caught Ma.

Ma pleaded guilty at the District Court on Thursday. He told the judge in mitigation that he had no criminal record.

He said he opened a hotel business in mainland China, and only committed theft because of poor business.

However, the judge said that Ma’s technique was professional, and that two accomplices had tried to prevent the victim from catching him. Such factors justified a heavier sentence.

The judge also urged the secretary for justice to pay attention to the increase in organised and professional criminal activities.

‘Trouser-slicing’ epidemic

Several cases of theft on public transportation employing the “trouser-slicing” technique have been reported over the past year.

sliced pants
A previous case of ‘sliced trousers.’ File photo: Richard Li.

On Wednesday, two mainland men were caught committing the same type of theft on the 268X bus route in West Kowloon. According to Ming Pao, they were found carrying 11 sharp blades.

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.