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November 30, 2013

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Bath house thieves sent to prison

A GANG of 19 thieves, including five juveniles, who stole about 530,000 yuan (US$86,900) in valuables from bath houses, were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 1 to 12 years, Changning District People’s Court has said.

Prosecutors said the Tan brothers came to Shanghai for a job, organized the gang and committed 14 thefts in nine bath houses between January 2012 and June 2013.

The elder Tan, who was jailed for 12 years, learned how to decode and duplicate electronic keys after buying a decoder from an online store. He then recruited the other gang members, including a 15-year-old. He asked them to apply for jobs in bath houses.

His younger brother was sentenced to seven years for working as his assistant.

Once gang members got jobs and found customers had put valuables into a locker, they informed the elder Tan with a text message.

He then posed as a customer, duplicated the locker key given to him by gang members and stole the valuables, prosecutors said.

According to the elder Tan, more than 100 keys could be duplicated within 30 minutes.

The gang members were caught by police in August.

In court, a 17-year-old gang member said he only wanted to make some extra money to pay for his mother’s medical treatment. He previously earned 2,500 yuan a month as a factory worker in Zhejiang Province but quit after the brothers contacted him via QQ, a popular online messaging tool in China.

“I wanted to give my parents a better life with the money I earned, but now I made them sad,” he said after seeing his parents wiping tears from their eyes during the court hearing.

Qian Xiaofeng, deputy chief judge in the case, said public bath houses need to improve security and strengthen the management of employees.

Qian said public bath house workers have also failed to alert customers to the dangers of not storing their valuables in safes that the venues provide.

The remaining gang members were sentenced from one to four years in prison.


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