Indonesian domestic worker jailed for 4 weeks for stealing 5,500 face masks amid coronavirus-related shortage

Screenshots via Google Maps and YouTube.
Screenshots via Google Maps and YouTube.

An Indonesian domestic worker in Hong Kong has been sentenced to four weeks in jail after admitting to stealing 5,500 face masks in Causeway Bay.

Stand News reports that the defendant, a 35-year-old named Masriki, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud during her appearance at Tuen Mun Magistrates’ Court today.

The court heard that the two victims, named in reports as “SRI-YATIN” and “ITA,” made respective orders for 2,000 and 3,500 face masks in mid-January amid a coronavirus-induced shortage of masks and other hygiene products.

The masks were sent to Anny Express in Causeway Bay Centre to be collected, but on Friday, Masriki went to outlet twice claiming to be the recipient of both packages.

That same afternoon, ITA went to collect the masks only to find someone had taken them, at which point the courier called the police, and Masriki — who was nearby at the time — was arrested.

An initial police investigation found that she had sold the 2,000 face masks for HK$7,140 (US$919), and that the second box of masks was given to someone else who still hasn’t been found.

The defendant told the court that she regretted her crime, and pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud. In mitigation, Masriki said that she has a 12-year-old son living in Indonesia, and that she committed the crime because she needed to raise money for her father’s surgery.

During sentencing, magistrate Kelly Shui said that people should be helping one another during times of difficulty, not robbing, stealing, and scamming each other.

In addition to the four-week jail sentence, Shui ordered the defendant to compensate the courier company to the tune of HK$12,000 (US$1,545) for the missing masks.

The news comes amid other instances of coronavirus-induced crimes of panic. Last week, thousands of face masks were stolen in a pair of incidents in Kowloon. And just today, armed robbers carried off the Great Toilet Paper Heist of 2020, robbing a delivery worker at knifepoint of hundreds of rolls of toilet paper — also in short supply thanks to widespread panic-buying.

Two men believed to have taken part in the robbery have been arrested, while at least one more suspect remains at large.

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