At least 12 tombs at Yuen Chau Tsai Cemetery in Tai Po were found damaged during the weekend, some of the coffins having been opened, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday.
Local residents feared that jewelry and other valuables contained in the buried caskets had been stolen.
Yuen Chau Tsai village representative Lee Kwok-wing said there had been no robberies of graves in the village for at least a hundred years.
Lee said as the ancestors of the villagers were fishermen, it is traditional to put valuables in coffins.
He suspected that the robbers were familiar with the village traditions.
Lee said he was angry that the ancestors had been subjected to such disrespect.
He said he is convinced the thieves will receive karmic payback for their crime.
A woman surnamed So, whose deceased husband’s grave was among those damaged, said there were two jade rings and a few small gold pieces inside the tomb.
She is awaiting an auspicious date to open and examine the coffin, to ascertain the losses.
A fellow villager, also surnamed So, was shocked and furious to find out that the tomb of his younger brother was raided.
“The thief must be blind,” he said.
“My brother died at the age of 40-something, and everyone knows only old people are buried with gold and jewelry.”
He estimated that it would cost him tens of thousands of Hong Kong dollars to repair and rebuild the grave.
A villager surnamed Shek said he saw lights on at the cemetery when he was diving with a group of friends on Sept. 17 in the waters off Tai Po.
He was not suspicious at the time, as he never expected graves to be robbed in Hong Kong.
There is, however, a famous precedent.
Robbers targeted the tomb of the deceased wife of billionaire Li Ka-shing on Jan. 29, 2006, the first day of the Lunar New Year holidays that year.
They damaged the grave but failed to take anything from it.
However, they robbed the tomb’s two caretakers, a husband and wife, of their valuables.
Hong Kong and mainland police arrested seven men in the case.
Two Hongkongers and two mainlanders were convicted in Hong Kong, and three others in Guangzhou.
The seven robbers were jailed for between two-and-a-half years and five years.
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