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Over $460,000 in gold recovered after daring heist in China

By Quan Zhanfu | | Updated: 2024-04-17 17:34
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Police in Tongcheng county, Hubei province, have concluded a 90-day investigation into the biggest gold robbery case in the county's history, recovering all the stolen goods valued at over 3.33 million yuan ($460,000).

On Dec 6, just three days after its grand opening, a gold store in Tongcheng was robbed of 533 pieces of gold jewelry and products, totaling 5,876.16 grams and valued at over 3.33 million yuan. The theft sent shockwaves through the city of over 430,000 residents.

The investigation revealed a meticulously planned operation. The suspect, disguised with a hat, mask, and gloves, hid in a secluded stairwell within the shopping center for an unknown period. He broke into the jewelry store twice, using an oxy-acetylene cutting torch to breach the safe and steal the gold during the second entry. The entire operation took less than two hours.

To avoid detection, the suspect used only cash, refrained from staying in hotels, and traveled through multiple provinces, including Hunan and Jiangxi, using various vehicles and deliberately altering routes. This meticulous approach left minimal physical evidence.

Authorities launched a multi-province investigation. A breakthrough came when forensic analysis of a discarded motorcycle linked it to the suspect surnamed Xie, a native of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. Further investigation, including analysis of used banknotes, provided crucial information about Xie's whereabouts.

On Dec 15, a special task force apprehended Xie near an abandoned bus station in Yulin, Guangxi, as he was about to board a bus. He initially refused to cooperate with investigators, withholding the location of the stolen gold. However, after extensive efforts, authorities located his estranged former girlfriend and daughter, who had disappeared 12 years earlier. This development prompted Xie to divulge details of the crime.

Xie confessed to planning the heist after his release from prison for theft in April 2023. Acting on his information, the task force recovered the stolen gold, which had been buried underground wrapped in undergarments and socks.

The full recovery of the stolen goods marks the successful conclusion of a high-profile case that spanned five provinces and 26 cities and counties.

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