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January 12, 2011

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'Silent' robbery baffles police

RESIDENTS living in a complex on Minhang District's Jingfu Road woke up yesterday morning to find that the windows of 18 cars parked in the community had "disappeared silently" overnight, with three GPS navigators, several hundred yuan cash and a prepaid gasoline card stolen.

There was no sign of the missing windows other than a few tiny pieces of glass scattered about.

Residents living on the second floor said they didn't hear the sound of breaking glass that night, when the mysterious theft happened.

"They must be professionals as the windows seemed to have been removed swiftly without making any noise instead of being smashed," said a 66-year-old resident surnamed Zhang.

She backed up her theory with the fact that none of the damaged cars' alarms went off in the middle of night, even though most of the cars are equipped with them.

Residents fear the thieves were working in a team, well-equipped and organized, and might come back again to break into their homes, -threatening their lives.

And their fear has solid grounds - the complex with 10 buildings and about 400 households is not equipped with a single surveillance camera, not even a fake one that some residents believe could deter thieves.

Moreover, thefts have occurred so frequently in the complex, that a resident surnamed Xu complained to Shanghai Daily that a total of six electric mopeds had been stolen in the past two years.

A security guard at the complex said they hadn't installed the cameras because the residents refused to pay property management fees, while residents said they should not pay for such poor security services.

The absence of witnesses and camera records has left police who are investigating the mysterious case with little to work with.

A police officer told Shanghai Daily that they were trying to track down the suspects by using the nearby monitoring cameras on the streets outside the complex.

They have also sent out plainclothes officers to conduct investigations at other nearby complexes in case the thieves choose to target them next.

Police have issued warnings to car drivers, saying they should not leave valuables in their cars and to park under surveillance cameras, as thefts and robberies are more likely to occur during the days leading up to the Spring Festival.

In December, 17 car owners at a complex in Baoshan District found their car number plates had been stolen - the thief is still at large because the complex is not equipped with any monitoring cameras.


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