China: Shanghai police battle burglars… with butter
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China: Shanghai police battle burglars… with butter

Home security has long been a question of doors and gates, surveillance and guards. Residents of Changning district in Shanghai, however, have found a different ally in the struggle against burglars (at least the climbing sort). It’s called butter.

After suffering a string of robberies in which the thieves climbed into apartment buildings, authorities of Changning district’s Hong Jing Road’s Lane 888 devised a home-spun solution, reported

They smeared butter over the gas pipelines outside the building (up to the third floor). The method seems to have had some effect.

Changning district has seen a surge in crime in recent times. According to, police reported that crime had risen 36 percent over the course of this year. In 2013 so far, police had recorded 1170 robbery incidents.

The more than 600 households of Hong Jing Road’s Lane 888 had been affected. Half way through last year, a person climbed onto the second floor balcony of an apartment and stole 3,000 yuan (US$492). The two women inside the apartment were powerless to stop the intruder.


A Shanghai policeman applies butter outside an apartment. Pic:

It didn’t help that the area’s small business committee had shutdown, meaning it was not possible to raise the necessary funds to establish a monitoring system.

Perhaps it is little wonder then that authorities decided to employ the butter method after hearing about its ability to repel climbers. The program started in July, 2012.

The website reported that within six months of applying the butter a “slipping” effect emerged. In the three months since that point, the community suffered no climbing-related burgularies – police did nab a suspected thief, but he said he did not break in through climbing.

Asked whether they would employ the butter method or standard monitoring to halt theft, readers of the article on voted overwhelmingly in favour of butter. As of this story going live, 10,054 people had voted in favour of butter; 1,022 picked the more traditional route.