The Macau police and their counterparts in Zhuhai have arrested four mainlanders – three males and a female – for their alleged involvement in Friday’s gambling chip robbery at the Plaza Casino in the Four Seasons Hotel in Cotai in which two men robbed chips worth HK$3.1 million by attacking first a security guard and then a dealer with pepper spray, the Judiciary Police (PJ) announced in a special press conference at the weekend.
The press conference about the case, hosted by several PJ officers, took place shortly after midnight on Saturday.
The four suspects were arrested on Friday night. The robbery happened at around 5:30 a.m. on Friday.
According to the press conference, the two robbers – the two main suspects in the case – were arrested in Zhuhai, while the woman – the third suspect – and the other man were arrested in Macau.
Before leaving Macau for the mainland, one of the two robbers handed the chips to the female suspect. The man arrested in Macau – the fourth suspect – did not belong to the three-member gang.
The woman’s role in the gang was to ask someone – the fourth suspect – to help change the chips into cash in Macau and smuggle the proceeds into the mainland. However, the woman and the fourth suspect were arrested by the Judiciary Police before the deal could get off the ground.
Before the woman and the fourth suspect were arrested by PJ officers, the woman had handed a number of chips to the fourth suspect for him to change into cash. Most of the robbed chips were seized by PJ officers from a hotel guestroom in Cotai where the woman was staying. The two robbers left Macau on Friday morning. During Friday night’s operation, all the robbed chips were recovered by PJ officers.
Before the robbery, one of the two main suspects reconnoitred the Plaza Casino and its adjacent areas, to familiarise himself with the premises and possible escape route. In an apparent attempt to avoid police detection, he dressed as a woman, according to the press conference.
The Judiciary Police first announced the case in a statement issued shortly before 9 a.m. on Friday. According to the statement, the security department of the casino in the Four Seasons Hotel called the Judiciary Police at 5:35 a.m., informing them that two men had attacked a security guard and a dealer with pepper spray, robbed the casino of chips worth about HK$3 million from a gaming table, and ran away.
The Judiciary Police revealed some additional information about the case during a regular press conference on Friday afternoon, during which a PJ spokesperson confirmed that two men wearing masks robbed the casino of chips worth HK$3.1 million.
The spokesperson also said that the security guard and the dealer attacked with pepper spray did not require hospital treatment.
When asked by the media whether the public security situation in and around local casinos was deteriorating, the spokesperson insisted that the police believed that the robbery was an isolated case.
During Saturday’s press conference, the two main suspects were identified as a 37-year-old surnamed Deng and a 27-year-old surnamed Qu. The female suspect was identified as a 20-year-old surnamed Xiang. The fourth suspect is a 40-year-old surnamed He. The female suspect is Deng’s girlfriend.
At around 5:20 a.m., the two robbers – Deng and Qu – went to a high limit area of the Plaza Casino. Deng first attacked a security guard with pepper spray, before both men rushed to a gaming table, where Deng attacked the dealer working at the table with pepper spray. The two robbers grabbed chips worth HK$3.1 million – 31 chips each worth HK$100,000, according to Saturday’s press conference. Security guards tried to catch the two robbers, but in vain.
According to the press conference, the two robbers were running away from the crime scene towards the Sands Cotai Central complex. Each got into a taxi at the taxi rank outside Sands Cotai Central.
The robbery lasted only three to five minutes, according to the press conference.
After scrutinising CCTV footage, PJ officers discovered that one of the two robbers – Deng – went to the Plaza Casino on the previous day to reconnoitre the premises, wearing a wig and women’s clothing, according to the press conference.
PJ officers also discovered that after the robbery, one of the two robbers – Qu – met a woman – Xiang, the third suspect – in a fast-food eatery in the city centre. After scrutinising the police forces’ citywide CCTV camera system, PJ officers also discovered that the two robbers – who left Macau via the Barrier Gate checkpoint separately – changed public transport several times and also changed their clothes during the get-away. The police confirmed that they left Macau separately via the Barrier Gate border checkpoint on Friday morning, according to the press conference.
PJ officers quickly contacted their counterparts on the mainland for assistance. In conjunction with the Guangdong Public Security Department, the Zhuhai Public Security Bureau arrested the two robbers in the neighbouring city on Friday night. The two men have been taken into custody by the Zhuhai Public Security Bureau.
PJ officers believed that the woman who met one of the two robbers was involved in the case and therefore put her under surveillance. On Friday night, the officers discovered that the woman was staying at a casino-hotel in Cotai. The officers also watched as she handed a number of chips to a man – the fourth suspect – in a casino.
According to the press conference, after the woman had walked away, the police detained the fourth suspect who quickly admitted that the woman had handed him a number of chips, to be exchanged for cash. The officers found a chip worth HK$100,000 and three HK$10,000 chips on the fourth suspect. Later the officers arrested the woman in the casino-hotel’s guestroom. The officers found two HK$10,000 chips on her, 14 HK$10,000 chips in the guestroom’s safe and 29 HK$100,000 chips in a sock hidden in a shoe in the guestroom.
The woman admitted to the police that she intended to help Deng change the robbed chips into cash. The police also discovered that she had changed a number of HK$100,000 chips into lower denomination chips.
According to Saturday’s press conference, the Judiciary Police will request their counterparts in Zhuhai to question the two robbery suspects. The Judiciary Police also said during the press conference that all the robbed chips have been recovered by PJ officers.(Macaunews)