The Order of Blue Sky and White Sun awarded to the late former commander of Kinmen Defense Command, Hu Lian (胡璉), was reported stolen on Friday from a sealed display case at the Juguang Tower located on the island.
Hu, a commander renowned for his leadership and dedication during the second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), was in 1943 awarded the Order of Blue Sky and White Sun, the highest military decoration of the Republic of China, for his accomplishments in the battle of West Hubei.
The medal had been on display at the Juguang Tower, along with a number of relics of Hu Lian’s service, since the Kinmen County Government received consent to do so from his son, Hu Chih-kuang (胡之光), six years ago.
However, the medal went missing from the exhibition hall on the third floor of the tower on Friday afternoon. Six tour groups, from China and Taiwan, were visiting at the time.
A tour guide at Juguang Tower said the medal had been seen secured in a transparent acrylic case at about 9am on Friday. Only when a tour guide reported it missing at 4pm did the authorities realize the decoration had been stolen.
At 4:25pm, the authorities reported the theft to the Chin Cheng police station, the guide said.
Although police initially had difficulty identifying a suspect — Juguang Tower is a popular tourist attraction in the county that draws large numbers of tourists — surveillance videos showed that a man aged about 60 might have been responsible for the crime.
The video showed the man entering the Juguang Tower alone at about 3:30pm, then move from the first floor toward the exhibition section on the third floor, where the medal was on display.
A few tour groups were in the section at the time and the man appeared to deliberately stumble toward a balcony, where he waited until the visitors had left before stealing the object, police said.
Police said two screws were found at the scene, leading investigators to conclude that the suspect used a screwdriver to open the display box and steal the medal.
Police said they did not rule out the possibility that the suspect could have been a one-time subordinate to Hu Lian, who stole the medal to keep as a memento.
Aside from launching a full investigation, police have also provided information and photographs to the county’s airports and docks, urging anyone with information of the theft to contact the police.
The Glory Foundation on Saturday quoted Hu Yueh-min (胡越敏), Hu Lian’s grandson, as saying that he would soon hold a press conference on the matter.