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2020 in Burglar News

Sometimes, they make headlines for more than just the crime

Here at TWOC, we like to stay on top of important news and trends, providing our reader with nuanced analysis in our Viral Week column about grandpas riding roller-coasters and farmers dancing.

Each year, some topics and characters make repeated appearances in this weekly column, and we make round-ups of viral news under these emerging themes. Following our compilation of top police news and safety scandals from previous years, we bring you our picks for the strangest news about burglars, housebreakers, and thieves of 2020—and remind you to lock your windows and doors if you’ve gone traveling for the holidays:

Thief unmasked

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, a Sichuan farmer shouted at a thief in his vegetable patch, “I don’t care that you’re stealing, but you’re not even wearing a face mask!” (Stealing small amounts of vegetables from one’s neighbors appears to be a traditional Lantern Festival prank in Luzhou, where the incident took place.)

Thief in quarantine

On March 2, a 22-year-old woman surnamed Yang entered a Guangzhou hospital’s isolation ward for Covid-19 in order to steal a patient’s mobile phone. Yang was found by the police the next day, taken to the hospital, and placed in isolation herself.

Grave crime

Two men in Baise, Guangxi, had been making repeated robberies on the ancestral tomb of the leader of their work unit. Their idea was apparently to pretend to “find” the remains when their leader discovered the loss, and claim a reward.

Sealed with a theft

Li Guoqing, the co-founder of e-commerce platform Dangdang, broke into the company’s offices, posted notices which claimed he had taken over the firm, and allegedly stole several of the company’s official seals. The bizarre episode was the latest in a longstanding feud between Li Guoqing and his estranged wife, Peggy Yu, who co-founded the company together, before falling out and hurling insults at one another.

More jail time, please

A burglar caught stealing from a car in Anhui province asked police for a heavier sentence. The man, who had been recently released after 18 months in prison for another burglary, stated that he had not enough time to learn to sew last time he was jailed.

Criminal miscalculation

A burglary suspect surnamed Wang has been detained in Dunhua, Jilin province, for making off with 120,000 RMB’s worth of stolen jewelry from a home, including jade necklaces, bracelets, and rings…which he sold off in bulk to the owner of a flea market stall for just 120 RMB.

High-standard housebreaker

Returning to her vacant home in Heilongjiang province, a Ms. Zhang was annoyed to find the words “So poor!” written in lipstick on her window. A burglar had broken in, and was disappointed to find nothing worth stealing except some coins, biscuits, and ham sausages.

Action thief

A burglar in Jinan, Shandong province, who had perhaps watched too many action movies, attempted to stun a homeowner with a karate chop to the neck—but only succeeded in waking the already-sleeping victim, who then called the police. The burglar was caught as he tried to flee.

Breaking and eating

A homeowner surnamed Li in Taizhou, Zhejiang province, called the police on a neighbor who had broken into her apartment to cook and eat multiple times for over a week. The housebreaker defended himself by claiming that he “doesn’t steal, only eats,” while Ms. Li said she had been too scared to turn the man in until he ate her latiao, boneless chicken feet, and other favorite snacks.

Laughing too soon

A housebreaker in Sichuan province committed a successful burglary, but was forced to retreat to the roof when the homeowner returned unexpectedly. To kill time until he could escape, he decided to watch videos on Douyin on his phone—and was caught when he burst out laughing.

Cover image from VCG


author Hatty Liu

Hatty Liu is the former managing editor of The World of Chinese, and an award-winning communications researcher. Born in China, and raised in China, Canada, and the US, she leverages her cross-cultural identity to create more empathetic knowledge across national boundaries.

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