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February 20, 2012

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Take on thieves, urges 'heroic resident'

A VOLUNTEER crimefighter who stopped a mobile phone theft even though she was beaten for her efforts has been praised by city residents.

Molly Wang, 29, uploaded footage of the incident in a busy subway station on Saturday and urged other Shanghai residents to confront thieves.

Web users who saw the clip described Wang as a "heroic resident."

"If everyone made the effort to stand up to theft, there would be no thieves," said Wang.

But she also admitted that the suspect may walk free.

For while she handed the suspect over to police, the victim whose phone Wang retrieved has not come forward to make an accusation.

Wang told Shanghai Daily that, angered at repeatedly being the victim of theft, since 2005 she has tried to stop any thieves she sees.

She is a member of the Anti-thief Alliance, a group of volunteers from all walks of life who assist police in preventing theft by patrolling areas such as bus and subway stations.

On a "solo mission" at the weekend, Wang saw a woman, who appeared to be pregnant, walking around Yishan Road Station of Metro Line 9 during rush hour.

She appeared to be following some commuters and bumping into others.

"These are typical tricks played by thieves," Wang said. "So I followed her, took out my iPad and started recording."

In the clip, seeing the suspect pick a pocket, Wang shouts, "You stop right there!" She then asks the victim if she's lost anything, and that woman confirms that her cellphone is missing.

At this moment, the "pregnant woman" starts pushing Wang and beating her about the head.

In the attack, Wang's iPad is knocked from her hands, at which point the video ends.

Wang said the woman was later turned over to police, but unless the victim identifies her as a thief may be set free.

"I'm not surprised, as many similar incidents end up like this," said Wang.

"I don't care whether the thief is punished by law, all I want to do is to tell people it's not hard to confront thieves and help others," said Wang.

Wang said she is not alone in her fight. The city has a group of volunteer crimefighters - migrant workers, unemployed people, cleaners, lawyers, businessmen - who patrol Shanghai helping police catch thieves, she said.

"People ask whether I should quit because the job's dangerous," wrote Wang on her microblog.

"I ask them whether they are risking their life every day jumping red lights or speeding. Stopping a thief is much safer."

On the microblog, many web users praised Wang.

"At my school, I have seen thieves stealing aggressively as no one dares stand against them. We need voices to say no to this evil," commented a netizen called "Diana."


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