Thieves Remove CPUs From 13 PCs at Hong Kong Government Office

CPU thefts
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Burglars crept into a government office in Hong Kong and took the time to extract the CPUs from the desktop computer systems they found. The Standard reports that 13 PC systems were plundered in this fashion. Meanwhile, the thieves (or thief) also seem to have had room enough to grab a tablet to add to their swag bag.

This unusual burglary may have taken place over the weekend, with the police attending the crime scene this morning. Police officers think that the thief / thieves accessed the West Kowloon Cultural District offices by prying open a window. It is likely they exited the same way.

With the limited access a small window provides, it seems sensible to harvest small but expensive components like CPUs, memory, and SSDs from office PCs. 13 CPUs wouldn’t take up much space, and could conceivably fit into a jacket pocket. We hate to think of CPUs breaking, even in the hands of a thief, so hope the CPUs were removed and packed carefully.

CPU thefts

(Image credit: The Standard)

According to the source report, the PC systems which were ransacked were purchased back in 2018, and cost over HK$40,000 each at that time. That’s a lot of money, and today would convert to roughly US$5,000 per PC. If that isn’t a ‘special’ contract price from a government contractor, the components must have been quite high-end at the time.

Looking back at 2018, AMD launched its second-gen Ryzen processors as well as some powerful Threadripper parts like the 2990WX. Intel launched 8th Gen Coffee Lake-S desktop processors in April, following up with the Skylake-X series with up to 18 cores in October, plus a trio of 9th Gen unlocked Coffee Lake-S Refresh chips before the year-end. If the HK office had the latest and greatest processors from 2018, they would have likely been kitted out with one of these CPUs.

A quick check of the second-hand market shows that a contemporary flagship consumer CPU like the 2018-vintage Core i9-9900K, sells for under $250 in 2023. Thus, 13 of these might be able to be sold to raise $3,250. However, the headlining CPUs may have to be sold at some discount as stolen property.

At the time of writing, HK police are still investigating the CPU thefts. No arrests have been made so far.

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • peachpuff
    What is it with all these computer component theft/smuggling in China? Is this heavily taxed there or what?
  • bilibalaqualala
    Why left the RAM modules there? I supposed the RAM modules werelow hanging fruit when comparing with the heat sinks on the processors.
  • xarmx
    The most possible reason why only the processor is because its not detectable until you turn on the PC. One could still left the CPU case open and sees that the RAM and storage still in tact but didn't realise that the processor under the heatsink fan is missing. Until they turn on the PC. A 10th gen processor could easily earn you at least $100 a piece. That's for i5. Anything i7 and above could well earn you $200 each at least.