A 51-year-old man has been arrested for attempting to steal two of the comfort women statues from a footbridge near Exchange Square in Central.
According to Ming Pao, a pedestrian discovered the man, surnamed Ng, moving the statues at around midnight early Thursday morning and called the police.
The man surnamed had allegedly cut the chains securing the plaster figures, which weigh nearly 100 pounds. He also took away two wooden stools and two donation boxes.
The police arrested him near the scene, and recovered the objects which were undamaged. They have yet to determine his motive.
Police have not ruled out that there may have been others helping him or a vehicle waiting to take the statues away. The case is being investigated by the Central District Crime Unit.
Koo Sze Yiu, one of the group’s members who was keeping watch over the scene at night, was asleep with his sleeping bag covering his head due to the cold. He did not notice the objects being moved until police officers notified him.
He said he had talked to the suspect at various functions, but did not know him well.
The statues were installed in July by the non-profit group Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands to commemorate the history of the Sino-Japanese wars and the women and girls forced into sexual slavery in Japan’s military brothels during the conflict.
The group’s vice-chairman, Bull Tsang Kin-shing, said there has been opposition to the statues’ placement, and the group has taken measures to ensure their safety, including arranging for members to take turns watching the statues and using chains to secure them.
Tsang also said that the suspect had cut the chains, then used a hand trolley to lift the statues, before moving them to an elevator about 200 metres away.
He added that the statues had been placed back in their original position and refastened to the railings with thicker chains.