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Sunday, Jun 26, 2022

Missing 19-month-old toddler kidnapped in Pok Fu Lam found safe, suspect arrested

Hong Kong police have arrested a man for kidnapping a 19-month-old toddler and her domestic helper, who were rescued three hours after they were abducted in Pok Fu Lam and locked up inside a shipping container in Yuen Long on Wednesday.
Sources said the helper was taking the toddler to playgroup session and walking along Victoria Road near their home at luxurious estate Residence Bel-air around 8am on Wednesday when they were snatched away by kidnappers who jumped out of a vehicle. They were subsequently taken to Yuen Long and locked up inside a shipping container in Tai Wo Tsuen, Pat Heung.

Witnesses filed a report to the police immediately after seeing the kidnapping occur in broad daylight, which triggered a city-wide manhunt.

It wasn't until 11am that nearby villagers heard the caregiver shouting for help and contacted police after freeing the pair – who were safe and unharmed.

Sources said the toddler's father is a Japanese man who owns a sushi restaurant in Hong Kong.

Officers arrested a male suspect who rented a black vehicle for the kidnapping when he returned the car yesterday morning. It is understood that police are still hunting his accomplice.

At the moment, police declined to give further details as an investigation is underway.

A villager at Tai Wo Tsuen who helped rescue the toddler said he lived about 10 houses away from the container where the victims were found.

He was at home on Wednesday when he heard noises. He came out of his house and found the toddler, whose hands were tied with plastic straps, and her helper standing atop the container shouting for help.

He rushed home to fetch a wooden ladder and climbed up the container with other villagers to free the victims, who were helped to the ground. Police officers arrived and subsequently cordoned off the area for investigation.

Another villager said the container had been at the site for years, and the doors had been heavily eroded. He guessed the helper, estimated to be around 30 years old, climbed to the top of the container from the windows initially intended for an air-conditioner.

Manisha Wijesinghe, director of case management at HELP for Domestic Workers, said the case is a demonstration of the support that domestic workers provide for families.

While noting the kidnap as an extreme and unfortunate situation, Wijesinghe said “everybody is safe because of the domestic helper.”

She also said domestic helpers are often one of the most important people in children’s lives as they have to teach and feed them, and there is a close emotional connection built between the helpers and the children.
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