Former police officer sentenced to 7 months and 2 weeks in prison for stealing passenger’s backpack on bus, ordered to pay HK$19,000 in compensation

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7th June 2023 – (Hong Kong) A former police officer who stole a backpack containing a laptop, tablet, Octopus cards, and other items worth HK$27,800 ($3,566) from a bus travelling from Causeway Bay to Tin Shui Wai in the early hours of 26th November, 2022, has been sentenced to seven months and two weeks’ imprisonment, with a compensation order issued for the unrecovered value of HK$19,000. The 26-year-old defendant, Lai Pak-hung, who was suspended from duty, pleaded guilty to five counts of theft at Tuen Mun Magistrates’ Court on 7th June. Prosecutors said Lai had also stolen three Octopus cards belonging to the victim, which had a combined value of HK$778.8. The court heard that Lai had left the police academy in 2016 and that he had been tempted to commit the crime. The defence argued that Lai had expressed remorse, had sent letters of apology and had made arrangements to pay compensation to the victim. However, the judge decided that a custodial sentence was necessary, despite Lai’s willingness to compensate the victim.

The 30-year-old victim had boarded a bus in Causeway Bay after drinking at a bar and was travelling to Tin Shui Wai, where he lived. However, he discovered that his backpack, which contained an Airpod Pro charger, a brown wallet, a Hong Kong ID card, four credit cards, a housing estate resident card, a 759 membership card, a restaurant membership card, three Octopus cards, HK$900 ($115) in cash, a laptop, an iPad Air, an iPad Air keyboard, a Switch gaming console, a box of 30 black masks, a charger, two charging cables, a card holder, and a stack of cards, was missing.

In the morning, he received a notification from the security guard aTin Shing Court in Tuen Mun that his backpack had been found in the estate’s rubbish bin, but the contents were missing. After reviewing CCTV footage, investigators discovered that Lai had taken the backpack off the bus and had used the victim’s three Octopus cards to make seven transactions. The police later arrested Lai at his residence and found some of the victim’s belongings.