In a desperate attempt to avoid getting caught, a man has broken apart and swallowed the beads of a jade necklace he had stolen from a jewellery store in south China.
The 49-year-old suspect, identified by his surname Hou, was working with a female accomplice, Zhou, 24, when they pretended to be buyers at the jewellery shop in Jieyang, Guangdong province on Thursday, according to police.
The shopkeeper told officers that the necklace was worth more than 10 million yuan (£1.2 million). The pair have been detained by police.
Hou swallowed at least 40 jade beads on the necklace, according to a statement by Jieyang police on Sunday. Officers are waiting for the man to pass them out of his system.
The two suspects had been coming to the jewellery store in Yangmei district every day since Tuesday and pretended to be interested in purchasing the said jade necklace.
On Thursday at about 11am, the pair arrived at the shop for the fifth time and asked a sales associate to see the necklace again.
Complaining that the shop was too dark to see the colour of the beads, Hou took the necklace outside to look at it under the 'natural sunlight' while Zhou remained inside the store, police said.
CTV footage released by the authorities shows Hou, dressed in black clothing, standing outside of the jewellery shop before suddenly leaving the premises with the necklace, prompting shocked sales staff to alert the police.
'The owner claimed the necklace was worth over 10 million yuan (£1.2 million). We took the case very seriously and immediately began our investigations,' said officer Huang Xushan, adding that they suspected Hou was a drug addict.
Zhou was apprehended by the authorities right away. Officers then discovered that the pair planned the heist after getting acquainted on Chinese dating app Momo.
Employing facial recognition system, police confirmed the identity of Hou through his profile picture. He had previously served jail time for stealing jade ornaments.
The suspect was finally located and apprehended on Friday in Foshan, 400 kilometres (248 miles) away from Jieyang. However, there was no trace of the necklace.
Suspecting that Hou might have swallowed the gemstones, police officers took him to a hospital, where an X-ray scan revealed the 40 beads in his abdomen.
'I've passed half of it out already,' Hou told Jieyang news. 'The rest is still inside me.'
The police have yet to charge Hou and Zhou amid ongoing investigations.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.