Sat, Jan 12, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Woman uncovers large-scale grave robbery

TOMB RAIDER:More than 80 percent of graves at a cemetery in Yunlin County have been robbed by someone who appears to be a very experienced thief

By Huang Shu-li and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

A woman uncovered grave robbery on a grand scale while paying her respects at a cemetery in Yunlin County last Saturday.

After tending her family’s peanut fields in Douliu City’s (斗六市) Thirteenth Borough’s Halfway Village, the woman, surnamed Chuang (莊), paid a visit to her father-in-law’s grave. Chuang said her foot sank right through the ground when she arrived at the grave, and she was so scared she ran back home to tell her family. After news of what had happened spread, the whole village made their way to the cemetery to check on the graves.

According to the villagers, more than 80 percent of graves at the public cemetery, which contains about 30 graves, had been robbed, adding that the grave robber seemed to be very experienced.

The thief or thieves marked the targeted graves, then at night would dig a 60cm deep by 30cm wide hole, and saw open the lid of the casket around the head and arms, the villagers said. After stealing jewelry from the bodies, the grave robber(s) refilled the hole with dirt.

If it had not been for Chuang accidentally stepping on the grave, no one would have realized that there was anything wrong, the villagers said, adding that they had contacted the police.

However, the robber(s) struck again after the police had been alerted. A resident, surnamed Tsai (蔡) said that when the case was reported, his father-in-law’s grave was still intact, but on Tuesday it had also been robbed.

Tsai said the cemetery was the burial ground for village elders, both newly deceased and those who died decades ago, adding that there was one grave in which the female occupant had said that she wished to be buried with all the gold she owned.

The woman had a total of 3 liang (兩), or about 112.5g, of gold buried with her, which had all been taken, Tsai said, adding that the gold would be worth about NT$200,000 at current value.

Another individual working out of town, surnamed Ou (歐), had returned to the borough when he heard the news to find that his father’s grave had also been robbed.

A gold ring had been taken from among the burial items, Ou said, adding that it was a good thing that his father’s favorite watch had not been taken.

Ou said that he would be hiring men to repair the grave as he could not leave it in a dilapidated state.

Meanwhile, police said they would look into the matter, adding that they were pursuing a potential lead involving a former convict.

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