HK shoplifter snaps up S$165,000 alligator coat from Burberry

HONG KONG - A brazen shoplifter has helped himself to an alligator-leather coat worth nearly HK$1 million (S$165,000) from a flagship Burberry store in one of Hong Kong's busiest shopping districts, police said Friday.

The pricey trench coat was displayed on a mannequin, and staff at the British brand's shop in Tsim Sha Tsui discovered it was missing after they closed for business on Wednesday.

"The person who reported the case discovered a leather jacket worth about HK$900,000 had disappeared. A review of the security cameras made staff believe it had been stolen," police said in a statement.

Police are looking for a strongly built male suspect aged between 30 and 40, it said.

The Tsim Sha Tsui area is particularly popular with wealthy Chinese tourists willing to pay eye-popping prices for Western brands.

The suspect is a Chinese man and walked out of the three-storey store unchallenged after removing the coat from the mannequin in the early evening of Wednesday, the South China Morning Post reported on Friday.

Quoting a police source, the newspaper said some designer brands avoid placing security tags on their high-end products for fear of ruining their quality, relying instead on surveillance cameras and security personnel.

Burberry, which has 14 stores in Hong Kong, declined to comment on details of the case, citing an ongoing police investigation.

"As the case is under investigation, Burberry will not make any further comments," the company said in an emailed statement to AFP.

After making its name selling sensible outdoor wear for the British gentry, the retailer has moved distinctly upmarket in recent years.

Driven by double-digit sales growth in the Asia-Pacific region, Burberry's retail revenues jumped 14 per cent to $866 million in the quarter to December 31.