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Palace Museum thief to serve 13 years in jail

By Zhao Wen (Shanghai Daily)

14:39, March 19, 2012

THE thief who made headlines last May after stealing nine exhibits from Beijing's Palace Museum was sentenced to 13 years in prison by the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court today.

Shi Baikui, 28, a native of Shandong Province, was also fined 13,000 yuan (US$2,054), the court ruled.

Shi sneaked into the Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, on the night of May 8 last year and stole nine jewelry boxes on loan from the Hong Kong Liang Yi Museum.

He lost five of the boxes while he was on the run and threw the other four in a dumpster after a jewelry shop owner told him that they were fakes, the prosecutors said. The insured value of these stolen objects was about 410,000 yuan.

Police managed to recover six of the jewelry boxes, but three, worth about 150,000 yuan, are still missing, the court said.

Prosecutors said Shi had confessed to planning the theft and mapping out his escape route on an earlier visit.

But Shi denied planning the theft in a previous hearing and told the court he acted on the spur of the moment when he took shelter from the rain in the museum.

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