Hong Kong police were hunting a gang of thieves who made off with about US$157,600 worth of cash belonging to a currency-exchange outlet in Sheung Shui in the New Territories on Tuesday.

At 7pm, three members of the currency-exchange staff were making a cash delivery in a minivan, when the vehicle got a flat tire. In the back seat was a backpack containing about HK$1 million (US$128,000) and several thousand Chinese yuan.

While waiting at a garage for the tire to be repaired, one of the staffers, a female, who had stayed in the van was told by a man that another tire had burst. She got out to check, but when she got back into the vehicle, she saw that the backpack had disappeared.

Police mounted a search but no arrest was made. They classified the case as theft and were investigating surveillance-camera footage, Oriental Daily reported.

Police did not rule out the possibility that the gang had followed the staff for some time and punctured the van’s tire on purpose so as to carry out the heist.