Chinese Man Steals Phone From Buried Coffin and Transfers Over $1,000 to His Bank Account

He also admitted to visiting the cemetery to check graves for tokens left behind by loved ones.
cemetery china phone steal
Not the actual cemetery. For illustrative purposes only. Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash

This article originally appeared on VICE Asia

Giving a contemporary spin to the age-old crime of grave robbery is a man in China who has been detained for stealing a dead man’s phone and using it to transfer over $1,000 to his own bank account.

The suspect, a 21-year-old only identified by police under the pseudonym Li Li, was arrested by authorities in Zhejiang province on Sept. 19.

Li Li allegedly unearthed a coffin and stole the phone that was left with the corpse, presumably as an offering, Sixth Tone reported.


Traditional Chinese customs dictate that living relatives must offer money, jewellery, or other items to ensure a better afterlife for their departed loved ones.

Knowing this, Li Li admitted that he would go to the cemetery alone at night to uncover coffins and take money that had been left as offerings. Usually, this amounted to anywhere from 30 yuan ($4.20) to 80 yuan ($11.19).

He seemingly hit the jackpot after finding the phone and figuring out the dead man’s WeChat mobile payment password. He allegedly returned the phone after transferring 1,000 yuan ($140) to his bank account but eventually ran out of money and came back for more. The transfers reportedly amounted to 9,500 yuan ($1,300).

However, the dead man’s son eventually realised that something was wrong earlier this month after the local social security bureau informed him that medical reimbursements and funeral fees that amounted to 9,500 yuan were transferred to his father’s bank account. Upon checking, the account was empty.

A police investigation then discovered that several transactions were made on the father’s account in August, months after he died.

Li Li is currently detained in Changxing County on suspicion of theft; his case is being processed.

Conversion rate: 1 Chinese Yuan = $0.14.

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