Hong Kong parasites

February 18, 2020 12:24
Shoppers wearing protective masks push their trolley past bare supermarket shelves, usually stocked with toilet paper and kitchen rolls. Photo: AFP

It's getting crazier and crazier everyday. This coronavirus outbreak must be attacking that part of the brain that keeps us sane.

Times are hard, we know, but who would ever think of staging a daring robbery to snatch toilet rolls? Only in Hong Kong. 

So there were these three masked men armed with knives who waylaid a delivery worker outside a Wellcome supermarket in Mong Kok on Monday morning, and ran off with about 50 plastic packs containing 600 toilet rolls.

Was it a spur-of-the-moment heist? An opportunity to make money that presented itself and was too hard to resist?

They were probably inspired by the sight of panic-buying consumers emptying supermarket shelves for toilet rolls and other daily necessities. The demand for this stuff was huge, they must have thought, and so the next thing that came to mind was how to get the supply.

Robbing a delivery man might seem easy, but hieing off with those bulky items wasn't. Did they think no one would notice them as they carried their loot in the streets?

And how much did they think they could possibly make out of the stolen goods? HK$2,000? HK$3,000 at most? 

Considering the level of sophistication that went into the planning of this crime, it's no surprise that two of the suspects were arrested in just a few hours at a nearby guesthouse, along with the stolen goods. Three more accomplices were being hunted down as of press time.

This bizarre incident has really got some people worried. Gone are the days when the bad guys used to target banks and jewelry shops. Now some of them are going after supermarkets and their stocks of toilet rolls. That certainly gives a bad name to their trade.

The coronavirus crisis has turned things upside down. Now toilet rolls and face masks are precious goods that must be had by hook or by crook.

Talking about masks, an Indonesian maid, 35, was sentenced to four weeks in jail after she admitted stealing face masks from compatriots who ordered them from an online retailer.

She falsely claimed to be the recipient of 5,500 masks at Anny Express in Causeway Bay Centre. So when the real buyers came later to collect the items, the masks were already gone.

The store operator called the police, and the suspect, who surprisingly was still lingering around the premises, was arrested.

The maid told police that she had sold 2,000 of the face masks for HK$7,140, and gave the rest to a compatriot whom she could no longer find, according to local reports.

This happened sometime in mid-January when the shortage of face masks was just beginning to be felt amid in the worsening coronavirus outbreak.

Just like in that Korean movie that swept the Oscars recently, a crisis sometimes brings out the worst in some of us.

But instead of turning into parasites, we should look at this crisis as an opportunity to help one another and rebuild our community.

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CG

EJ Insight writer