Hong Kong police have arrested four men and a woman for allegedly robbing a pair of suspected illegal petrol stations of more than half a million dollars as well as using counterfeit banknotes to buy a getaway car.

Revealing the arrests on Saturday, police said four people wearing masks and holding butcher knives carried out the first robbery at Mai Po Lung Tsuen in Lok Ma Chau in the early hours of November 3.

The staff member there handed over cash along with personal assets worth about HK$410,000 (US$53,000).

Another robbery took place in December at a petrol station on Kwu Tung Road in Lok Ma Chau, with the victims losing about HK$130,000 in cash and valuables.

The police investigation into the two robberies revealed that counterfeit currency was used to buy a getaway car. Photo: Warton Li

The police investigation into the two robberies revealed that counterfeit currency was used to buy a getaway car. Photo: Warton Li

During the subsequent investigation, Ho Yiu-chung, chief inspector for the border district, said police were able to link a counterfeiting case in Sham Shui Po to the latter robbery.

Ho said the victim had sold a car on a second-hand vehicle trading platform for about HK$40,000 just days before the December robbery, receiving dozens of HK$1,000 banknotes.

The seller later found out the bills were all fake, and officers then discovered the car he had sold was used in the second robbery.EVERY SATURDAYSCMP Global Impact NewsletterBy submitting, you consent to receiving marketing emails from SCMP. If you don’t want these, tick hereBy registering, you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy

“During this operation, we dismantled a robbery group,” Ho said.

On Thursday and Friday, officers raided 14 premises in the New Territories and Kowloon while arresting four local men and a woman who held an exit-entry permit allowing her to travel between the mainland and Hong Kong or Macau.

Officers also found the car and a motorbike allegedly used in the robbery as well as fake licences. They have not ruled out making more arrests.Ho said the two petrol stations belonged to the same company and he believed they were targeted because their transactions usually involved a high amount of cash. While the Post has previously reported on illicit petrol stations, police did not disclose why the two robbed were identified as operating illegally.

Tang Kwok-hin, senior inspector of the commercial crime bureau’s counterfeiting unit, said the victim received the phoney bills in an environment without sufficient light and had not paid enough attention to the cash.

But Tang said his team found the counterfeit banknotes to be of poor quality, and urged residents to be careful when using cash.

“There are no anti-counterfeiting features on the notes. Ordinary citizens can identify them easily,” he said.

Extracted in full from: https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-and-crime/article/3114636/five-arrested-hong-kong-police-connect-petrol-station