Date
17 December 2017
Burglars opened a hole (inset) in the wall at the back of the Wing Lee Sandalwood Co. shop to gain access. Photos: Ming Pao, Metro Daily
Burglars opened a hole (inset) in the wall at the back of the Wing Lee Sandalwood Co. shop to gain access. Photos: Ming Pao, Metro Daily

HK$3 mln worth of agilawood stolen from Yau Ma Tei shop

Two masked men grabbed agilawood decorations and products worth an estimated HK$3 million from a shop in Shanghai Street in Yau Ma Tei, Ming Pao Daily reported Tuesday.

The burglars ransacked the century-old Wing Lee Sandalwood Co. shop early Monday, targeting only the pricey agilawood items, leaving everything else untouched.

Agilawood has become a popular target of burglars in recent years as prices have soared, driven by increased interest from mainland collectors.

The market price for agilawood is about HK$30,000 (US$3,870) a catty.

Burglars opened a hole about 60 centimeters in diameter in the wall at the back of the shop to gain access.

The shop owner, named Yuen, said several dozen agilawood pieces were stolen. A 60cm-tall decorative piece weighing six kilograms was the most expensive item, worth about HK$500,000.

Closed-circuit video footage revealed that two masked men broke into the shop and stayed for over an hour before fleeing the scene.

Yuen said his shop had been broken into in 2000, but the “the more amateurish” burglars took only about HK$20,000 from the cash register and a safe, without realizing the agilawood products were worth much more.

The case is being handled by the Yau Tsim Mong regional crime unit.

The price of agilawood is estimated to be appreciating at a rate of 10 percent per year, giving rise to illegal logging in areas such as Lantau Island, Tai Mo Shan and Pat Sin Leng Country Park.

Agilawood is mainly grown in India. It is bought for its visual appeal or to be ground into powder to be burnt as incense for its health benefits. Some believe the incense has a calming effect.

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