Meet China’s West Lake phone retriever, the cop making a splash by fishing mobiles out of the water

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PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 October, 2017, 5:08pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 October, 2017, 6:00pm

Careless visitors to West Lake – a world heritage site in eastern China – are dropping so many phones in the water that fishing them out has become a major part of one police officer’s duties.

Zhou Xiangjun, who has been dubbed the West Lake phone retriever, said he has even designed his own fishing rod to help him pull mobile phones and other items from the lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

Zhou spent 3,000 yuan (US$450) building a rod equipped with an infrared camera and display monitor, Thepaper.cn reported.

He was quoted as saying that the rod he now used for recovering valuables was an upgrade to his initial design.

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“With the first generation rod, which was fitted with magnets, it would normally take 40 minutes to find a phone, but now it takes just two to three minutes and the success rate is much higher,” 56-year-old Zhou said.

He said people often dropped their phones after leaning too far forward when trying to get snapshots of the lotus flowers that float on the lake’s surface.

Apart from phones, Zhou said he had rescued more than 150 people and countless expensive cameras, video recorders, iPads and purses since he was transferred to the site from the city’s water police service in 2003.

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While applauding the policeman, many readers on Thepaper.cn website questioned the need to retrieve phones that had been dropped into the lake unless they were waterproof.

However, one commentator pointed out: “I still think it’s important to retrieve them for environmental concerns.”