A Chinese man suspected of stealing 10 computer tablets was arrested recently after being betrayed by his smelly clothes, according to a local media report.
Police launched an investigation after a man was caught on a surveillance camera stealing the tablets, along with a mobile phone and 1,500 yuan (US$230) in cash, from customers at a film-themed cafe in Luoyang, central China’s Henan province, at the end of last month, Iqilu.com reported on Friday.
During the theft, the man took steps to conceal his identity and was even seen wiping the surfaces he touched to erase his fingerprints, the footage showed.
His efforts at deception initially made it difficult for the police to trace him, but he gave them hope after using a mobile payment app on the phone he had stolen to treat himself to some new clothes, the report said.
As the phone’s owner had reported the theft, police were alerted to the transaction and went to the clothes shop to investigate. Footage from a surveillance camera there showed the suspect leaving dressed in his new outfit and carrying his old clothes in a bag.
Despite the new lead, officers were still unable to find their man until they discovered his old garments, which he had discarded in an alleyway, the report said.
Although the appearance of the items gave them little to go on, their distinctive odour did. The foul stench wafting from the carrier bag, officers quickly deduced, carried with it the unmistakable reek of a Chinese internet cafe.
After trawling the city’s cyber establishments – which like most others in China were poorly ventilated and filled with cigarette smoke – police finally got the break they were looking for when the owner of one of the cafes said he recognised the man in the surveillance camera images as one of his customers.
He was also familiar with the suspect’s distinctive aroma, the report said.
“The man was a regular visitor at the internet cafe and was known for his body odour,” an unnamed police officer was quoted as saying.
“The owner often asked him to shower before coming in, because the smell was so bad it put other customers off.”
As people who use internet cafes in China are required to register with their ID cards, the owner was able to furnish the police with all the information they needed and the suspect was promptly arrested, the report said.