Rise in Hong Kong Crime Tied to Mainland Triads

A SPATE of holiday violence in Hong Kong has prompted fresh concern over the increase in armed robbery, murder, and other serious crime in the British colony. In the past two weeks, a policeman and an elderly Hong Kong man were killed in two separate robberies, while gunmen stole $30,000 in a daytime hold up of Japanese tourists.

Police attribute the recent violence partly to a seasonal spurt in crime. ``During the Christmas holiday and as Chinese New Year approaches, there is an increase because people want more money. People are robbed and mugged,'' says Royal Hong Kong Police Force spokesman Mohammed Khan.

Yet the robberies also illustrate a more persistent, worrying rise in crime, linked to the expansion of organized crime syndicates operating across the border in mainland China, police statistics show.

The number of homicides in Hong Kong for the first three months of 1990 surpassed the total for the previous year.

Police are also arresting more illegal immigrants from mainland China, who have been hired by crime syndicates to commit offenses in Hong Kong. They then attempt to sneak back across the border. Gunmen who shot and killed a Hong Kong constable after robbing a restaurant on Dec. 27 were illegal immigrants working for a well-organized syndicate, police say.

``Mainland gangs are a contributing factor'' in Hong Kong's rising crime rate, Mr. Khan says.

Public advertisements on Hong Kong television regularly urge viewers to ``REPORT TRIADS!'' - organized crime gangs active in gambling, prostitution, and other illicit trades in the territory.

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