China: Around The Nation

China’s new RoboCop? Stolen robot helps police track down its thief

Machine transmits thief’s phone number to its owner, who alerts authorities

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 April, 2017, 2:29pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 April, 2017, 10:42am

A stolen robot has helped police in eastern China track down the man who took him from his owner, Chinese media reported.

The robot was among the more than 9,000 yuan (HK$10,160, US$1,300) worth of items the thief stole from his roommate in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, last month, the Yangtse Evening Post reported on Monday.

The suspect, surnamed Zhao, had made off with his roommate’s possessions on the day his rental lease ended, the report said.

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The two men had been living together in a 970 sq ft apartment in Nanjing, alongside six other people.

The roommate, surnamed Tian, reported the theft to police immediately after it was discovered, but officers had been unable to locate Zhao until last Friday.

They managed to track him down only after he tried to activate the stolen robot, which required a phone number to be entered into its system for use, the report said.

The machine alerted its owner, Tian, after Zhao entered his number into the its system, according to the report.

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Police were then notified and Zhao was eventually located and detained in the neighbouring city of Xuzhou.

“I had been eyeing that robot for a long time, and stole it since my lease was just about to end,” Zhao told the police.

Police spokesman Wang Shunqi said tenants who rented flats with many people living in them faced high security risk. He advised such tenants to be alert and take good care of their possessions.

Chinese social media users were amused at the robot’s role in solving the crime.

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“An emotional robot that could not bear to part with its owner,” one user joked on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo.

“Now we will see more people using such robots,” another wrote.