Police arrested a 51-year-old female Vietnamese asylum seeker for allegedly stealing clothes in Central on Hong Kong Island on Sunday.

At 3pm, when plainclothes officers were patrolling on a pedestrian walkway outside the IFC mall in Central, they encountered three Asian women carrying tightly-packed shopping bags. The officers thought the women were acting suspiciously, Oriental Daily reported.

When the police tried to stop the three women, two of them ran away. The remaining woman put up a struggle that resulted in one male officer suffering an injury to his hand, Apple Daily reported.

When officers subdued her, they found 42 items of clothing, still with prices and security tags attached, in her shopping bags.

The clothes had a total retail value of around HK$19,000 (US$2,420).

After officers arrested the woman for alleged theft and assault on a police officer, it was later established that she was an asylum seeker.  Police suspect that she is a member of a shoplifting gang operating in the city.