The Korea Herald


Legendary thief caught stealing again

By Korea Herald

Published : April 4, 2013 - 19:28

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Cho Se-hyung, a famous thief who daringly robbed the homes of wealthy and influential figures in the 1970s and 1980s, was arrested for stealing tens of millions of won worth of valuables at an upscale house Wednesday.

Seocho Police Station said Thursday that they caught the 75-year-old breaking into a house for burglary.

Cho has so far been convicted 10 times for theft. 
Cho Se-hyung Cho Se-hyung

According to police, he broke into a deluxe villa in Seocho, one of Seoul’s posh southern districts, at around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, and stole 33 items worth 30 million won to 50 million won ($27,000 to $44,000), including expensive watches and gold rings. He used a claw hammer, a pincer and other tools and broke a glass window of the home.

A neighbor reported a broken window to the police, who arrived at the villa 30 minutes after the break-in and nabbed Cho on the spot.

Cho told police that he lost self-control after a fortune teller swindled him out of 30 million won that his ex-wife gave him in a security deposit he planned to use to rent a mission office.

His bold theft from bigwigs in the 1970s and ‘80s earned him nicknames such as a “big burglar” or “chivalrous thief.” He even gave part of stolen goods to poor people.

He was arrested in 1982 and served 15 years. After completing his sentence in 1998, he tried to live a new life by becoming a devout Christian. In 2000, he married a woman 16 years his junior, who divorced him about eight years later.

Cho reappeared on the media’s radar shortly thereafter. This time, he was nabbed in Japan for filching. He served three years and six months in Japan and came back to Korea in March 2004.

He was seen living a life away from theft, but he went back to his old habit. He was put behind bars for breaking and entering in 2005.

In 2009, he ran away with 300,000 won in cash and a gold necklace from a jewelry shop in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, and was caught in 2011. But the court and jury acquitted him, considering his advanced age and lowered mobility of his leg and arm.

By Chun Sung-woo (