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Man detained in Palace Museum theft

05-12-2011 09:12 BJT

Beijing police said Wednesday night that they had detained a man suspected of stealing seven precious art pieces from the Palace Museum in Beijing's central Forbidden City.

Photographs released by Palace Museum show the seven art pieces stolen from
an exhibit at the famed Forbidden City, the heavily guarded former home of
China's emperors. The gold pieces, encrusted with jewels, were on loan from
the private Liang Yi Museum in Hong Kong.

The suspect, Shi Baikui, 28, from Caoxian County of Shandong Province in east China, was detained at 7:40pm at an Internet café in Fengtai District in southwestern Beijing, 58 hours after the relics were stolen, the Beijing Public Security Bureau said in a news release.

Beijing police said Wednesday night that they had detained a man suspected of stealing
seven precious art pieces from the Palace Museum in Beijing's central Forbidden City.

Police also recovered some of the stolen exhibits, without specifying how they had located the suspect.

It is reported that Shi has lived in the capital city for about four years.

Obviously, "pursuit of money" moved him to pull off the heist in the cover of night in the wee hours Monday, Shi told Beijing police.

The stolen items were on loan from the Hong Kong-based Liang Yi Museum and were discovered missing at 8:20am on Monday.

According to CCTV, China's central television station, Shi confessed he had stolen the relics in the Palace Museum. Whether he had sold any of his stolen artifacts is not known, and local police did not reveal how many of the stolen seven pieces have been recovered. An investigation is still under way.

The suspect, Shi Baikui, 28, from Caoxian County of Shandong Province in east China,
was detained after the relics were stolen 58 hours later .

According to the police, a museum staff member found and questioned a "suspicious" man in the museum at 10:30pm Sunday night. The man fled when the worker called museum authorities to report his presence.

It was the first theft in 20 years from the Palace Museum, spokesman Feng Nai'en said yesterday afternoon, adding that security would be increased.

"For this to happen here shows us that, No. 1, we need to speed up the modernization and installation of our security systems," Feng said. "No. 2, we need to find out if we can put into use better, and more sophisticated security systems."

Shi confessed he had stolen the relics in the Palace Museum. Whether he had sold any of his
stolen artifacts is not known, and local police did not reveal how many of the stolen seven
pieces have been recovered.

Guards saw a suspect fleeing the scene early Monday but failed to apprehend him, Feng said.

Later, they found that nine pieces - all small Western-style gold purses and mirrored compacts covered with jewels made in the 20th century - were missing. But, two of the lost items were recovered nearby, slightly damaged.

Feng said the entire Palace Museum will be checked to see if any other items are missing.

Wang Xiahong, curator of the Liang Yi Museum, refused to reveal the value of the stolen items, which belong to Hong Kong art collector Fung Yiu Fai.

She said that despite the theft, the exhibition would continue and other pieces would be added to the show, which is temporarily closed but expected to reopen.

The museum's deputy director, Ma Ji'ge, told reporters he felt "very guilty and sorry."

The Palace Museum last encountered a case of theft in 1991. That was eventually solved, according to Xinhua news agency.

 

 

Related stories

Video: Forbidden City Museum apologizes for million dollar art theft

Despite its heavy guard, a theft took place at the Forbidden city in Beijing on May the 8th. Seven items have been stolen and spokesman for the tourist attraction, Feng Nai'en apologized Wednesday morning to the public and made a commitment to beefing up security. Full Story>>

Analysis

Reasons behind Forbidden City Museum theft case

Despite tight security measure within the Forbidden City, Items went missing. Why and how did it happen? Full Story>>

Likelihood of stolen art being sold

Pictures of the stolen art have been published. Is it likely that someone will try and sell them through an auction house? Full Story>>

Backgrounder

Video: Review of thefts from Forbidden City

Since the founding of New China in 1949, the Forbidden City has suffered five cases of theft. All five registered cases took place in the Hall of Mental Cultivation. Full Story>>

Video: Overview of Forbidden City security

Theft at the Forbidden City used to be considered impossible. Over 400 security cameras have been installed around its 720,000 square meter floor plan. Full Story>>

 

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: People’s Daily

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