A smuggler keen to evade taxes in mainland China tried to hotfoot it through a Shenzhen immigration control point by stuffing his shoes full of 1,000 diamonds.
But customs officials were on their toes and became suspicious when they saw him walking on tiptoe. They pulled him over for an inspection and found the booty under his insoles.
The incident happened on Monday last week at the Luohu crossing, which links to the city’s Lo Wu immigration control point.
“The man was suspicious as he sometimes tiptoed. When he found that we were looking at him, he quickly shifted to a normal walking posture,” a mainland customs officer told Xinhua, the state news agency.
After being intercepted, he was asked to take off his shoes, which contained bags of diamonds weighing 212.9 carats.
The agency said the suspect was still under investigation.
According to Shenzhen customs it was the second such smuggling case there in nine days.
On March 4, officers seized 1,554 diamonds weighing 164 carats hidden in nut packaging when a mainland man was intercepted at the same control point.
Xinhua said Shenzhen customs officers had mounted a two-month anti-smuggling operation at the control point, cracking 26 cases and seizing 2,243 carats of diamonds.
A Hong Kong government source said diamonds were smuggled into Shenzhen to avoid import restrictions and mainland taxes that amounted to 20 to 30 per cent of their value.
“We believe the diamonds were being taken to the mainland’s processing factories to make jewellery before being smuggled back to Hong Kong,” the source said.
He said the Year of the Rooster was traditionally deemed a good time to get married so there was high demand for jewellery.
He added that carrying diamonds in or out of Hong Kong via the city’s control points was not a breach of Hong Kong laws.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Diamond smuggler trips up in Shenzhen