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AFP
February 18, 2020

Armed gang steals toilet rolls in panic-buying HK

World

AFP
February 18, 2020

HONG KONG: A gang of knife-wielding men jumped a delivery driver in Hong Kong and stole hundreds of toilet rolls, police said on Monday, in a city wracked by shortages caused by coronavirus panic-buying.

Toilet rolls have become hot property in the densely packed business hub, despite government assurances that supplies remain unaffected by the virus outbreak. Supermarkets have found themselves unable to restock quickly enough, leading to sometimes lengthy queues and shelves wiped clean within moments of opening.

There has also been a run on staples such as rice and pasta, as well as hand sanitiser and other cleaning items.

Police said a truck driver was held up early Monday by three men outside a supermarket in Mong Kok, a working-class district with a history of "triad" organised crime gangs. "A delivery man was threatened by three knife-wielding men who took toilet paper worth more than HK$1,000 ($130)," a police spokesman told AFP.

A police source told AFP the missing rolls were later recovered and two suspects arrested, while a third remains on the run. Footage from Now TV showed police investigators standing around multiple crates of toilet roll outside a Wellcome supermarket. One of the crates was only half stacked.

Hong Kongers reacted with a mixture of bafflement and merriment to the heist. One woman passing by the scene of the crime who was interviewed by local TV station iCable quipped: "I’d steal face masks, but not toilet roll."