Petty theft at gaming and Internet cafÃ®s is on the up in Hong Kong, according to news which is sure to set alarm bells ringing amongst operators of similar establishments here in the UK.
According to New Territories South Police, petty theft in electronic game centres has jumped from five to 35 cases this year, with thieves targeting mobile phones, purses and knapsacks left unattended as gamers seek their thrills nearby.
Crime Prevention Officer Connitta Chau explained that popular gaming and cyber cafÃ®s are an obvious target because customers leave mobiles and other personal belongings lying about while they play. This writer can certainly attest to this, having had a laptop nicked under similar circumstances not too long ago. Even if left in clear view, these things can quickly be forgotten in the heat of battle.
"Players are often distracted when they play videogames," Chau told The Standard, adding that thieves might ask to borrow a phone and then just walk away. In the heat of a fragfest, who's going to pay much attention to the bloke who just borrowed a phone?
"We will encourage owners of these centres to install lockers for customers," she said. 19 arrests have been made so far, with perpetrators aged between 12 and 28.