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August 22, 2016

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4 suspected tomb raiders held in Hebei

FOUR suspects accused of stealing a column cap from the Eastern Qing tombs site in Zunhua City, Hebei Province in May have been detained, Hebei police said yesterday.

Three suspects are natives of Zunhua and the the fourth is from Tangshan city in Hebei, according to police. They are between 26 and 38 years old.

The cap, which features an image of a flying phoenix in the middle, has been recovered.

Hebei police is offering a reward of 50,000 yuan (US$7,575) to anyone who can provide proof that the suspects committed the theft.

Around 4pm on May 17, security guards patrolling the site noticed that the column cap at the Long'en Hall of the Zhaoxi Mausoleum had gone missing.

It is made of white marble, weighs about 70 kilograms, and is about 48 centimeters high and 26 centimeters in diameter, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

The Zhaoxi Mausoleum was largely unmonitored before 1992, and anyone could enter it, workers said. Consequently, much of it was destroyed, prompting the authorities to undertake work to restore it using pieces recovered form the public.

After the theft, Li Xuesong, an official with the Eastern Qing tombs museum, was removed from his post and two other officials were also penalized.

Security was also beefed up, including the introduction of police dogs and an infrared alarm system in key areas.

The Eastern Qing tombs, an imperial mausoleum complex, is 125 kilometers northeast from Beijing and covers an area of 80 square kilometers. Five emperors (including Shunzhi, Kangxi, Qianlong, Xianfeng and Tongzhi), 15 empresses (including Empress Dowager Cixi), 136 imperial concubines, three princes, and two princesses of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) were interred at the site, making it the largest, most complete, and best preserved extant mausoleum complex in China.

It was the second theft from the tomb complex within six months. Last October, 12 relics were stolen from the Wenxi imperial concubine tomb.

The missing items included clothing and jewelry. After seven days, eight suspects were detained and 12 silk and gold artefacts were recovered.


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