When a suspected supermarket thief was caught by an off-duty senior police officer and a security guard on Saturday, he yelled, “I am from Wuhan” and “I am mentally ill”, after which he was taken to hospital to be tested for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Public Security Police (PSP) spokesman Choi Iok Kin said during a press conference on Monday.
The suspect is a 30-year-old unemployed local resident surnamed Chao. On Saturday around noon, Chao went shopping in a supermarket in Rua do Canal das Hortas in Toi San district. A security guard found Chao’s behaviour suspicious as he put his shopping straight into a white eco-bag before dashing out of the supermarket.
The security guard went in pursuit of Chao and chased him along the street until they were stopped by an off-duty senior PSP officer. Upon inspection, a quantity of canned food, fruit and frozen food worth 150 patacas was found in his bag.
PSP officers went to the scene to investigate. Chao realised that he had been caught red-handed and suddenly yelled: “I am from Wuhan”, “I am mentally ill.” Afterwards, one of the officers asked the suspect’s wife to come to the scene, where she confirmed that Chao had not been in Hubei province and has no mental illness.
The police arranged for Chao to be taken to the public Conde de São Januário Hospital to be tested for the novel coronavirus. He tested negative for the disease. Chao refused to cooperate with the investigation and denied he had stolen anything.
He has been transferred to the Public Prosecution Office (MP) for further investigation and faces a charge of theft.