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Shanghai Police Accuse Men of Hitting the Heights
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Shanghai police said yesterday they had arrested two men accused of robbing 23 upper-floor apartments by scaling outside walls and entering through open balconies and windows.

The men allegedly made off with valuables worth 210,000 yuan (US$26,200) from the 23 robberies, though Luwan District police said they had confessed to more than 40.

The other cases are still being investigated.

Police said the two men, only identified by their surnames, Zhang and Zhou, started breaking into apartments in April and were caught at the end of last month.

The apartments were all located in high-end residential complexes in downtown Huangpu and Luwan districts.

The lowest apartment was on the 10th-floor, according to police.

Police said the men confessed to hiding at night inside the residential complexes and scaling the walls when security guards were not present.

Police said the men would enter through open balcony doors and windows when they were sure the occupants were asleep.

The men would take mobile phones, cash and other valuables they found around the homes, police said.

They would then exit the apartments and leave the buildings through the front doors, past unsuspecting security guards, police said.

Police said the men would also carry a knife with the intention of threatening apartment owners if disturbed during the burglary.

Police said they were alerted to the burglaries after receiving reports of a number of break-ins in rich residential buildings.

Investigators found most of the buildings had effective security systems including on-duty janitors to deter thieves.

The likeliest way for the thieves to get into the apartments was to climb in through balconies or windows, police said.

Acting on information from witnesses who told police they saw two suspicious men at the time of the robberies, investigators traced Zhang to his home in Shanghai at the end of last month.

Zhang's confession led to the arrest of Zhou, also from Shanghai.

Police said people who live in upper-level apartments should lock their windows at night and keep valuables in a safe place.

(Shanghai Daily June 8, 2006)

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