Nude escape

Female pickpockets in Hong Kong have a bold new strategy for evading police.

Published August 7, 2001 7:14PM (EDT)

Criminals are always looking for new ways to be half-brilliant and half-stupid, and a few dishonorable women in Hong Kong have been pushing forward impressively. According to the Malaysian Star, female pickpockets in Hong Kong can now evade arrest with nothing more than a zipper and some buttons.

The tactic involves a kind of imposed chivalry: As police run through the streets after a purse snatcher, she tears off her clothes. Wary of appearing improper -- "indecent assault" accusations apparently have Hong Kong police feeling edgy these days -- the officers invariably give up the chase.

As recently as Saturday, a police spokesman in Hong Kong reported that a 33-year-old woman in Kowloon peeled down to her undies after snatching a purse. The Star article didn't say whether she'd been apprehended, or how her age was known.

These stories always raise too many questions to be satisfying: Do these mosstroopers, these Hong Kong rapparees, pilfer enough to pay for new clothes? Do their pants get stuck on their shoes during the divestiture, or are these strictly skirt crimes? Are they ever, you know, embarrassed? And what do the police officers tell their wives?

It's "Oliver Twist" meets "Basic Instinct," and whoever buys the movie rights to this tale of naughty nabbing will surely make wads of cash. Which should be stored safely in a money belt at all times.

By Chris Colin

Chris Colin is the author most recently of "Blindsight," published by the Atavist.

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