Chinese antique dealer ‘hired gang of tomb raiders and used stolen artefact as a coffee table’
A man in eastern China has been accused of hiring 12 thieves to raid a historic tomb and using one of the artefacts he had stolen as a coffee table at home, mainland media reported.
The man, who was only identified by his surname Cai, is an antique dealer in Hangzhou the capital of Zhejiang province, the local radio station fm918.net, reported on Monday.
Cai had previously been given a suspended sentence in 2014 for a similar offence, the report said.
Cai is accused of hiring 12 people, including a driver and movers, to steal 12 artefacts from the graves of two Buddhist monks between September and November.
Police were tipped off about the case after a group of villagers who were on their way to harvest bamboo shoots spotted a gang moving the stones in mid-November.
Cai was arrested on December 8 and police said he had admitted his role.
When they raided his house, police found the looted artefacts – apparently being stored before they were sold.
Officers said he had decided to keep one of them and was using it as a coffee table.
Police arrested 12 suspected thieves on January 3.
The graves the gang is accused of robbing date back to the Qing dynasty, which ruled China from the mid-17th century until the early 20th.
Chen Xingliang, the village chief, told the radio station that the two graves were well known among local villagers and had a special significance for them.
“We have known these two graves since we were little. They have been deserted for many years and people seldom go up there,” said Chen.
The police investigation is still ongoing.
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