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Self-styled anti-crime hero hit bottom but scars now healing

(Shanghai Daily)

10:56, November 26, 2012

THE scars on Wu Fujia's neck were routine to treat in the hands of a capable plastic surgeon, but the scars of the soul heal more slowly for the self-styled, anti-crime crusader.

Wu, 29, developed an obsession about being a crime-stopper hero after his father, a security guard, was stabbed to death in 2000 while trying to apprehend a thief on the streets. Over the years, Wu has tackled any number of pickpockets as he combed the streets looking for sneak thieves lurking among crowds.

His one-man crusade left him with deep scars, particularly on his neck, and a string of failed jobs and former girlfriends. He became self-absorbed with a hero image few shared, and that led to depression and even a suicide attempt.

Only one treatment remains

Wu's plight came to the attention of Shanghai Daily earlier this year. As a result of the publicity, a local hospital offered to treat his neck scars free of charge.

The scars are now receding, and Wu said his mental health is improving.

"There's only one medical treatment remaining, and then we will have a period of observation to see if further work needs to be done," said Liu Qi, media coordinator at the Shanghai Time Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Wu, who lives with his widowed mother in the Baoshan District, is trying to start anew. He hasn't completely given up stalking pickpockets, but he is trying to find a steady, full-time job. Most recently, he was doing part-time work conducting street surveys for an advertising company.

"I have applied to a company to sell bottled tea, and I'm still waiting for word back on that," Wu told Shanghai Daily last week. "I need a job, otherwise I can't survive."

Wu, who considers himself a good Samaritan in a sea of public apathy, has been regarded by many as a bit of a crackpot.

He has been labeled a troublemaker for his exploits and even derided as a petty gangster because of his facial scars. Though he has nabbed many pickpockets, most walked free because both victims and witnesses have refused to come forward.

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