The Hong Kong police have said they will not rule out the ongoing protests as being the reason behind a recent hike in robbery cases.

Police said the number of robberies from shops between January and November increased 28 per cent when compared to the same period last year.

The rate increased from one case per three days to one case per day. On Sunday and Monday, at least two shops and a man were robbed, involving belongings worth almost HK$2 million.

Police inspecting a robbery scene in Yau Ma Tei.

Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen said the situation was worrying.

“We do not rule out that criminals used the opportunity to rob shops as we were busy dealing with violent protests,” he said at a press conference on Monday.

“What’s most worrying is that the idea to abide by the law has been dropping because of rioters’ behaviour,” he added.

Large-scale pro-democracy protests have been ongoing in Hong Kong for more than six months, as demonstrators call for an independent probe into police behaviour.

Police inspecting a robbery scene in Yau Ma Tei.

Kwok denied police were intentionally sending fewer officers on community patrols, when challenged by a reporter.

“We will not give up on daily policing work,” he said.

Police inspecting a robbery scene in Yau Ma Tei.

“It is not easy to manage a population of more than seven million with 30,000 police officers,” he added.

Kwok said police will make appropriate arrangements so that officers can deal with robbery cases under safe conditions.

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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.