A Chinese thief painstakingly wrote out 11 pages of telephone numbers from a stolen iPhone and returned it to the owner.
Zou Bin lost almost 1,000 contact names and numbers from his handset when it was stolen after a stag do in the central province of Hunan.
When he realised the phone had been stolen, Zou bombarded it with threatening texts demanding the thief return it to a supplied address.
However, he said he was ‘astonished’ when he received the handwritten sheets of paper.
The pickpocket is believed to have taken the Apple handset from Zou Bin when they shared a taxi, China’s Xinhua state news agency said.
He wrote in the text message: ‘I know you are the man who sat beside me. I can assure you that I will find you.’
‘Look through the contact numbers in my mobile and you will know what trade I am in,’ he added.
‘Send me back the phone to the address below if you are sensible.’
Zou works in the pub industry, which in China is widely held to have links with gangs.
Days later he received a parcel containing his SIM card and 11 pages of carefully handwritten contact numbers, Xinhua said.
The handset, worth about £270, was not returned.
‘It would take a while to write from one to one thousand, let alone names and a whole string of digits.
‘I suppose [the thief’s] hand is swelling,’ Zou was quoted as saying.
The theft earlier this month is believed to have happened somewhere between Yiyang and Changsha in Hunan.
Chinese internet users gave the thief plaudits for his efforts, dubbing him ‘the conscience of the [theft] industry’.
One user of Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, posted: ‘What a sympathetic and faithful thief, one who values professional ethics.’