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Vending machine thief given away by jingle in his step

2014-03-07 16:28 Shanghai Daily Web Editor: Gu Liping

A man was detained for stealing coins from vending machines at city Metro stations using devices that he had made.

While the unemployed man said he made earned several thousand yuan in the past two months with his devices, it eventually was the jingling sound of coins and some attentive officers who caught him.

The suspect, surnamed Li, was caught by police after collecting coins from a machine he had rigged with one of his devices at the Shanghai Circus World Station of Metro Line 1 on Monday.

According to police, Li would insert a piece of folded paper into the coin slot to catch coins falling into the machine. He would come back one or two days later to collect the coins with a plastic stick wrapped with a magnetized aluminum sheet that he had cut from a cola can.

He collected coins worth 50 yuan (US$8.18) from each vending machine on average. He targeted machines placed in corners or far from surveillance cameras.

Police said customers who put coins into the slot but failed to get their products usually suspected that the machines were broken. Some would ignore the loss since it's not a large amount of money, and some were left with too little time to react as they had to catch a Metro train.

There had been customers who dialed the repair hotline after getting gypped. A worker would check the machine the next day, and remove the piece of paper inserted into the coin slot, which appeared to be just a kid's mischief.

Li caught police officers' attention when he was wandering around in the Shanghai Circus World Station with a pronounced jingle with every step he took.

He declined to give his identity number when approached by police, and was taken away for identity verification before the police found his homemade tools and some 200 coins from his pockets.

Li told police he was out of job, and had been targeting vending machines in stations along Metro Lines 1, 2, 6 and 11.

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