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Theft of Actress' Urn Caught on Tape

2009/08/20 | Permalink | Source

By Kim Rahn
Staff Reporter

Police are hunting for a suspect in the case of Choi Jin-sil's stolen urn after securing surveillance camera images showing a man carrying out the theft.

Officers from the Yangpyeong Police Station said Thursday that the images showed the theft at the cemetery in Yangsuri, Gyeonggi Province. "A man between his late 30s and early 50s approached Choi's tomb, made a hole in the stone tomb with a hammer, and took the urn, around 10 p.m. on Aug. 4, according to the surveillance cameras set up around her burial site", a police official said.

The man stayed around the tomb for about an hour. He did not wear a cap at first, but put it on in the middle of carrying out the act. "He organized the tomb after breaking it, sweeping the debris and wiping it with a damp cloth", he said.

According to the video clips, the crime took place early this month, while police initially suspected it had happened between 6 p.m. on Aug. 14 and 8 a.m. the next day when a janitor at the cemetery found flowers littered around Choi's tomb, the tomb broken and the urn missing.

Right after the incident was reported, police said the surveillance cameras did not work as they had been broken on Aug. 12 after being struck by lightning. But they found footage of the act later while checking the camera recordings between June 27 and Aug. 12 to see whether the suspect had visited in advance.

Police are trying to identify the suspect by investigating those who have been convicted of similar charges. "The investigation is ongoing, but we presume the suspect carried out the crime alone. When we get a clear image of the recording, we'll put him on a wanted list", the officer said.

Choi, who enjoyed a 20-year acting career, committed suicide in October last year at her home in Seoul, allegedly from depression following rumors that she had lent money to the late actor Ahn Jae-hwan, who killed himself a month earlier in the face of snowballing debt.

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