Central, Hong Kong Island. Photos: Google Maps, Wikimedia Commons

A 22-year-old man of Jordanian origin was arrested on Thursday in a jewelry shop in Central on Hong Kong Island after stealing 17 diamonds worth a total of US$11.4 million and evidently trying to hide some by swallowing them.

The suspect named Mousa, who had been in Hong Kong on a tourist visa since Wednesday, was accused of attacking a female shop assistant surnamed Chu at M&B Diamonds Ltd in the Winway Building at 50 Wellington Street, according to a media briefing by the police.

At 11am, the suspect went to the shop while the owner, a 32-year-old Israeli named Sheinfeld, Chu and another female storekeeper were present, and he stayed for 30 minutes, Apple Daily reported.

At 1pm, the suspect returned while Sheinfeld was out for lunch and only the two assistants were in the shop. He said he would stay and wait for the owner to come back.

After an hour, when Chu was alone in the shop, the suspect forced her to give him the combination to the safe by kicking and punching her. He took 17 diamonds and tried to flee.

Police Superintendent Andrew Cheng Dien-kit said the security system was triggered when the suspect opened the safe, which alerted the security company to lock the store’s door. The suspect was then trapped in the shop.

When police and the owner arrived, they found Chu lying unconscious on the floor with head and eye injuries, while the suspect was inside a storeroom.

Eight diamonds weighing 132 carats in total and valued at US$5.4 million and $8,600 in cash were found on him, Cheng said. However, nine diamonds weighing 180 carats worth $6 million were missing.

After checking security-camera video, police believed that the suspect swallowed the diamonds. He and his victim were both sent to Queen Mary Hospital.

Oriental Daily quoted Chung Chin-hung, chief of service (accident and emergency) at North District Hospital, as saying that diamonds can cut human intestines if swallowed.