Armed robbers who stole hundreds of toilet rolls were being hunted by Hong Kong police on Monday, in a city wracked by shortages caused by coronavirus panic-buying.
Toilet rolls have become hot property in the densely packed business hub, despite government assurances that supplies remain unaffected by the virus outbreak.
Supermarkets have found themselves unable to restock quickly enough, leading to sometimes lengthy queues and shelves wiped clean within moments of opening.
Alongside toilet rolls, there has been a run on staples like rice and pasta as well as hand sanitizer and other cleaning items.
Police said a truck driver was held up early Monday by three men outside a supermarket in Mong Kok, a working class district with a history of “triad” organized crime gangs.
“A delivery man was threatened by three knife-wielding men who took toilet paper worth more than HK$1,000 ($130),” a police spokesman told AFP.
Footage from Now TV showed police investigators standing around multiple crates of toilet roll outside a Wellcome supermarket. One of the crates was only half stacked.
Hong Kongers reacted with a mixture of bafflement and merriment to the heist.
One lady passing by the scene of the crime who was interviewed by local TV station iCable quipped: “I’d steal face masks, but not toilet roll.”
The city, which has 57 confirmed coronavirus cases, is currently experiencing a genuine shortage of face masks.