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Woman seeks bed in jail by arson

A HOMELESS woman eager to find free accommodation this winter went a little too far – she set fire to a bank's ATM to earn herself a prison sentence in south China's Guangdong Province.

Police have detained the woman surnamed Zeng, 22, and will soon refer her to prosecutors to file a charge, today's Southern Metropolis Daily reported.

Zeng failed to find a job in Shenzhen when she moved a month ago from her hometown in southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Penniless, she took shelter in 24-hour self-service banking outlets at nights.

Around 2:15am on Sunday, while she was sleeping near banking terminals in Bao'an District, a bank security guard asked her to leave.

Enraged, Zeng set fire to the ATM terminals in the outlet, shouting "put me in jail so that I'll have food and place to shelter," a guard told the newspaper.

The fire was soon put out although one machine was totally destroyed costing 20,000 yuan (US$2,300), said the bank.

Zeng allegedly confessed her crime, and could be charged with damaging public property - with a three-year to seven-year jail term if convicted, police said.


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