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Chinese farmer jailed for Forbidden City theft

A Chinese man has been sentenced to 13 years in jail for stealing nine pieces of art in an audacious robbery at the Forbidden City in the heart of Beijing.

Forbidden city 2012 03 19Enlarge
Shi Baikui, a 27-year-old farmer from Shandong, was sentenced by a Beijing court on Monday after pleading guilty at a previous hearing. He was also fined 13,000 yuan ($2,100). (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

A Chinese man has been sentenced to 13 years in jail for stealing nine pieces of art from the Forbidden City in Beijing, China’s most famous museum.

Shi Baikui, a 27-year-old farmer from Shandong, was sentenced by a Beijing court on Monday after pleading guilty at a previous hearing. He was also fined 13,000 yuan ($2,100), the Associated Press reports.

The audacious theft, which Shi said he carried out on the “spur of the moment” last May, has highlighted lax security at the Forbidden City, an ancient imperial palace in the heart of the capital, according to Reuters.

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Shi managed to disarm the alarm system and then broke into the complex by knocking a hole in the wall, the Second Intermediate People’s Court of Beijing said in a statement, according to the BBC.

He made off with nine items dating from the 1900s, including a purse and make-up case made of gold and jewels, but in his haste to flee the palace left five of the pieces in the compound.

After failing to sell the remaining items Shi threw them away, but was arrested in an Internet café in southern Beijing two days after the theft. Three pieces estimated to be worth around $23,800 remain missing.

The museum is reportedly overhauling its alarms to prevent such thefts in the future.

The robbery is the fifth on record at the Forbidden City, according to the Agence France Presse. Previous convicts were executed or sentenced to life in prison, but Shi is the first Forbidden City thief to be sentenced pursuant to the Chinese Criminal Law amendment in 2010, which ended the application of the death penalty for theft. 

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/120319/chinese-farmer-jailed-forbidden-city-theft