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Asylum seeker jailed 36 months for burgling 12 restaurants in 1 month

20 November 2023


A District Court judge handed down the decision in Tsuen Wan law courts building

In less than a month, a Filipino asylum seeker managed to enter and take various gadgets and cash from 12 restaurants in Mongkok and Sham Shui Po, and was caught only after being stopped by the police for a random search on July 7 this year.

Jeffrey M. Quiatchon, 36, was sentenced to a total of 36 months on Nov. 10, after pleading guilty to 12 counts of burglary and one of theft, which involved him taking letters addressed to three individuals from their mailboxes.

All the burglaries were committed in the morning, with all except one taking place before the restaurants opened for the day.


In mitigation, his Legal Aid counsel, Maurice Tracy, said Quiatchon arrived in Hong Kong from the Philippines as a tourist on June 14, 2018 but did not leave when his visa expired. In July 2018 he became a Form 8 holder –meaning applied for non-refoulement, or against being sent back to the Philippines.

The defendant is single but has five children as a result of different relationships, and they 

range in age from 2 to 15. Three of them are in the Philippines and two are in Hong Kong

He had one previous record of drug possession but none relating to burglary.


Tracy said the defendant committed the 13 offenses because he wanted to make a little extra money for his “de facto” family in Hong Kong. He also submitted that in the 12 burglaries, Quiatchon only sneaked in to the restaurants, and no one was alarmed by his presence, and no property was damaged.

Prosecuting counsel Ching Kwan-fung confirmed that there was no evidence of forcible entry in any of the premises burgled by Quiatchon, and that the culprits seen on CCTV all wore face masks, which meant that the only evidence against the defendant was his own admission to the crimes.

In sentencing, District Court Judge Gary Lam said he had sympathy for people who had to escape from their homeland for various reasons to seek refuge in another country. He also noted that the verification of non-refoulement claims can take a long time, but he said “Form 8 holders must behave themselves and obey the law in return for the hospitality extended to them by Hong Kong.”


Judge Lam also pointed out that although as a Form 8 holder the defendant is unable to work for money, his basic need such as housing and food are provided by the government and/or non-government organizations.

“In any event, being in a financial difficulty is not mitigating factor for committing a crime,” he added.

He also said that as rightfully accepted by the defence, the defendant’s immigration status aggravated instead of mitigated his crimes. Another aggravating factor was that a series of burglaries were involved.


“Bearing in mind the totality principle, I consider a global starting point of 5 years appropriate for all 13 charges. I would reduce it to 4.5 years to reflect the fact that the evidence against the defendant in Charges 1 to 12 came primarily from his own admissions. With the timely guilty pleas, the overall sentence becomes 36 months,” said the judge.

He then went on to describe in detail the sentences for each of the 12 charges of burglary and one of theft against the defendant.

According to the detailed judgment, Quiatchon sneaked into the restaurants early in the morning before restaurants opened, except for the first offence when he was seen by the restaurant owner entering the premises around 11:36 am on June 7, and leaving soon after.

In this first offence, the defendant took away a Samsung A7 tablet, valued at $2,000 and was placed near the cashier counter.

Two days later, he was shown on CCTV entering a second restaurant at 6:33am, shortly before it was to open, and took away a Redmi 9A mobile phone valued at $600, which was on a counter near the entrance.

On June 14, he struck again at another restaurant, entering the premises at around 6am and taking away a Redmi Note 9 mobile phone valued at $2,500  placed near its entrance.  The restaurant's business hours were 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

On the same day, he committed his fifth burglary when he entered another restaurant at 7:36am, and took away a Xiaomi mobile phone valued at $1,000  placed near the  entrance.  This restaurant opened at 11 am.

On June 18, he entered a fifth restaurant and took away a metal box containing $5,000 placed on the cashier counter. He entered the restaurant at around 9am, two hours before the restaurant was to open.

The next day, he entered a sixth restaurant at 7:35 am and took away a Redmi mobile phone valued at $1,500  placed on the cashier counter. 

On June 25 he took away a Nokia mobile phone valued at $1,000 from a restaurant which he entered at 6:50am. About two hours later he entered another restaurant twice, and each time took a Xiaomi mobile phone worth $900 from the cashier counter.

It took six days before he entered another restaurant which opened at noon and took away a Huawei tablet (valued at $3,000) placed on the cashier counter at around 7:30 in the morning.

About an hour later on the same day, he struck at another restaurant where he took away a Samsung mobile phone (valued at $2,000)  placed on the cashier counter and a red wooden box containing a piece of jade (valued at $1,000)  placed on a cupboard.

Four days later he sneaked into two restaurants in succession, during which he stole a Huawei tablet (valued at $1,500)  and a box containing about $1,000 cash, both placed on the cashier counter in the first location, and a Ulefone Note 10 mobile phone (valued at $1,500) in the second.

More than an hour after the last burglary Quiatchon was stopped on the street by a police officer for enquiry and a search. His backpack yielded the stolen Huawei tablet and a plastic bag containing three letters addressed to different units at Nos.112-114 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po.

He was arrested for theft but remained silent during questioning.

But during a video recorded interview at the police station he admitted stealing phones and cash in restaurants “because of greed.” He also said he picked up the letters outside Nos 112-114 Fuk Wing Street to conceal the tablet and mobile phone in his bag.

However, during this time he only admitted committing burglary in six different restaurants.

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