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Hong Kong trio convicted for Tokyo jewellery heist

A trio of Hong Kong thieves have been convicted for their roles in a 3.5 million US dollar jewellery heist in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district last year, according to a court spokeswoman.

The men — believed to be part of an international crime gang known for boring through walls to rob jewellery stores — pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal in Hong Kong’s District Court on Wednesday, she said.

Chan Kong-yiu, 52, Choi So-man, 50, and Chow Kwong-tung, 53, were expected to be sentenced next month.

Chan also pleaded guilty to dealing with the proceeds of crime as part of a agreement with prosecutors that saw charges against his wife dropped.

In January, Hong Kong police raided several flats in the southern Chinese city after thieves stole 200 luxury watches and jewellery from a Tokyo store about one week earlier.

At the time, police said they had seized about 180 luxury watches, 100 rings and “a quantity” of cash. Some of the stolen goods had already been sold.

An official with Hong Kong’s Organised Crime and Triad Bureau said the gang was responsible for other robberies in Japan.

The incident followed a robbery in February last year involving the theft of 540,000 US dollars worth of luxury items from a shop also in Tokyo’s Ginza district.

Both robberies saw the thieves bore through the shops’ walls to reach the luxury items, Tokyo police have said.

A group using similar tactics is believed to be responsible for a string of heists in the late 1980s and 1990s, with the syndicate having reappeared in the past few years according to Japanese press reports.

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