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Chinese thieves with morals

China has a saying that “even robbers have a code of conduct”. It looks like the modern-day thieves are keeping this “tradition” alive. Two recent reports of “thieves with morals” have left China’s Weibo users bewildered.

Thief No.1: Return of hand-written contact information from stolen iPhone

A person surnamed Zhou from Changsha had his iPhone 4 stolen while sharing a taxi with three strangers on November 15. Intoxicated at a wedding ceremony he was returning from, Zhou fell asleep in the taxi and woke up to find his phone had gone. He tried to call his number, but no one answered. Zhou said he was more concerned about the phone numbers because he had no backup copy.

Desperate, Zhou borrowed his colleague’s mobile and sent a message to the thief. The message read, “I know you are the one who sat beside me. Be assured that I will find you. Go through my contacts and you will know what kind of person I am. So, you’d better voluntarily send back my phone to the following address.”

“It was purely an empty threat,” Zhou said, noting that he did not expect any response. However, he was surprised with a parcel delivered to him by a courier a few days later. Inside the parcel, there were 11 pieces of paper, and a sim card. “All the numbers I stored in my phone, over a thousand of them, were handwritten on the paper,” Zhou said, “I was stunned.”

The 11 pages of hand-written contacts (left). Photo:

“I guess his hand must be swollen from writing all the numbers,” Zhou joked. Zhou works in a bar, and many of his contacts were logged simply as “President XX” or “Director XX”. “I guess sometimes being a blowfish helps,” he said. He did not report the case to the police because he had given up on finding his iPhone.

Thief No.2: A word of advice on staying safe

This thief, who “visited” a girl’s apartment, left a hand-written note giving the girl an advice on her safety, “Gal, please remember to lock your door and window at night! You are such a sound sleeper!”

Ms. Yu, a 22-year-old migrant worker living in a suburb of Hangzhou, said she was woken up by a call from the credit card service staff warning her someone was checking her credit at one o’clock at night. Confused, Yu got up and noticed she had been robbed. The door was open and her laptop and purse were both gone along with some cash and her credit card.

After a quick investigation, the police found Yu’s purse on the first floor of her building, in which theyfound a note left by the “thoughtful” thief. Leaving behind Yu’s work ID and supermarket card in the purse, the thief explained in the note, “I left these for you because I don’t need them.” What’s more, he was even “polite” enough to apologize to Yu in the note, “It’s not easy for a person to survive alone in a foreign place. I just want some money for a meal. Please forgive me.”


The awkward message left both Yu and the police speechless. The police said they have never encountered such a ridiculous case.


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