Two mainland men were seen begging for money in Quarry Bay on Thursday afternoon but fled after they learned that street begging is illegal in Hong Kong.
Some netizens suspected the duo might have been trying to exploit the compassionate nature of Hongkongers.
Both men wore a full set of professional biker apparel, including sunglasses, gloves and helmets, and hardly seemed to be in desperate circumstances.
Sing Tao Daily reported that one of its reporters received a tip about the two well-dressed beggars on the sidewalk at King’s Road.
The duo, who appeared to be in their 30s, said they were from Chengdu, Sichuan province, on an expedition by bicycle and needed to cover their expenses, as they had used up all their money.
The cardboard sign they put on the ground read: “We have traveled thousands of miles to come here. Please spare us tens of Hong Kong dollars so that we can have money for food and our trip.”
Asked why their bicycles were not visible, the duo said they left them at the MTR’s Lo Wu Station, the report said.
Soon after the Sing Tao reporter told the pair it is illegal to beg for money in public places, the men quickly picked up their sign and ran toward a nearby MTR station, where they were seen by the reporter buying tickets from a vending machine and getting onto a train.
Netizens said this was not the first time the duo were spotted begging for money on the street.
They had been seen in several places, including Lam Tin, Tsuen Wan and Tai Po, Metro Hong Kong reported.
Under the Summary Offences Ordinance, any person who is caught begging in a public place may be fined HK$500 (US$64.40) and sent to prison for one month for a first or second offense.
A fine of HK$500 and imprisonment for 12 months may be imposed for a third or subsequent offense.
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