Police arrested six female thieves from Hunan province at the Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem & Pearl Show at AsiaWorld-Expo, Apple Daily reported Tuesday.
Nearly 100 police were deployed inside and outside the venue to protect the exhibits, but the thieves somehow eluded the heavy security and stole two three-carat diamonds worth HK$1.43 million (US$184,000), replacing the gems with fakes, just an hour after the show opened Monday.
The thieves, aged between 23 and 41, were dressed in glamorous clothes and passed themselves off as wealthy visitors. They seemed to work in teams of two.
One team posed as customers and asked staff at a booth at 11.15 a.m. to show them three-carat diamonds one by one.
The staff suspected a diamond had been swapped and called police, who found a real diamond worth HK$980,000 on one of the suspects.
About 15 minutes later, another pair of women asked staff at a different booth to show them a three-carat diamond worth nearly HK$500,000 and swapped it with a fake one.
Staff only noticed the scam after the pair left the booth.
The women were arrested, but the real diamond was not recovered.
In a third case, police stopped and searched two women at a booth at about 12.50 p.m. They were arrested for attempted theft after being found with a fake diamond on them.
The fair, held by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, showcases loose stones and raw jewelry materials and runs until Friday.
A council spokesman said those attending are required to show documents before they are allowed to enter.
Police are investigating how the thieves managed to get into the show.
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