Hong Kong thief swapped diamond for fake

HONG KONG (AFP) - A thief swapped a US$220,000 (S$310,842) diamond with a fake at a luxury jewellery store in Hong Kong, police said on Saturday, as the city wrestles with an uptick in shop theft.

The diamond was taken by a man in his 30s on Friday from a store in Hong Kong's Central financial district, police said.

"From CCTV footage, it was found that a man posing as a customer arrived at the shop and picked out one of the items and then was suspected to have swapped the diamond with a fake," a police statement said.

The fake diamond was discovered by one of the store's employees, who reported the case to the police. No arrests have been made.

Shop theft in Hong Kong is up by over 15 per cent in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2014, with 4,961 cases reported, according to police statistics.

In January, Hong Kong police said they were hunting a girl aged between 12 and 14-years-old over the theft of a diamond necklace worth more than HK$36 million (S$6.6 million) from a jewellery store.

They have yet to make an arrest in the case.