A Chinese thief painstakingly wrote out 11 pages of telephone numbers from a stolen iPhone and sent them to the owner.
The pickpocket is believed to have taken the Apple handset from Zou Bin when they shared a taxi, the Xinhua news agency said.
Zou had nearly 1,000 contact numbers in the device and with no backup copy — like millions of other people around the world — he was more concerned about losing the data than the phone itself.
“I know you are the man who sat beside me. I can assure you that I will find you,” he said in a text message to the thief.
“Look through the contact numbers in my mobile and you will know what trade I am in,” he added. “Send me back the phone to the address below if you are sensible.”
The tone of the message was unmistakably threatening — Zou works in the pub industry, which in China is widely held to have links with gangs.
Days later he received a parcel containing his Sim card and 11 pages of carefully handwritten contact numbers, Xinhua said, adding he was “fossilised” by the result — a Chinese colloquialism for astonished.
Chinese Internet users gave the thief plaudits for his efforts, dubbing him “the conscience of the (theft) industry”.
One user of Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, posted: “What a sympathetic and faithful thief, one who values professional ethics.”
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