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China: Around The Nation

Public toilet paper theft spreads to southwest China

Chengdu’s plans to improve the ‘toilet-going experience’ at scenic sites are derailed by rampant pilfering

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 April, 2017, 3:08pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 April, 2017, 6:35pm

Seven days was all it took for 1,500 rolls of toilet paper to be snapped up in a public park in southwest China, after the park started providing free toilet paper for visitors, a local newspaper reports.

It all started this month when the city of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, launched a “toilet revolution” aiming to improve people’s toilet-going experience at scenic attractions by providing free toilet paper and soap. But already the goodwill campaign has been tarnished by rampant toilet paper theft, the Chengdu Commercial Daily reported.

The People’s Park in Chengdu started to provide free paper in 128 toilet cubicles on April 8, but they were consumed much faster than expected at a rate of 1,500 rolls in just seven days.

To find out just how fast the paper was being consumed, the park installed new rolls in 30 cells – which were all gone in 90 minutes, the report said.

Elderly Chinese toilet paper thieves face up to their crimes

A washroom cleaner in the park said she often saw people stuffing wads of toilet paper in their pockets. At other times, whole newly installed rolls were gone after only a few visits.

Not only was toilet paper targeted – a hand soap dispenser was stolen from the wall in a toilet the day after it was installed, the report said.

“Light-fingered visitors can cost us more than 100,000 yuan (US$14,500) per year,” a park manager told the Daily.

The manager said if the theft and waste did not stop in a few months, the park would stop providing rolls in every toilet cell and instead dispense at the entrance of each toilet block.

And if that didn’t work, the park would follow the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, which also suffered severe paper theft and resorted to using dispensing machines equipped with facial recognition technology that ration the amount of paper and the number of times a person could use a cubicle within an alloted time.

A user in need of tissue paper must stand in front of the machine for a face scan, which dispenses only 60cm of paper every nine minutes to the same user.