Two thieves who were caught in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, provided tips on allegedly corrupt officials they had stolen from in the hope of reducing their sentences.
Tang Shuiyan, 30, reported two allegedly corrupt officials in Hunan province in August through the website of the Communist Party of China's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection while she was out on bail.
She also reported seven other burglaries she had committed to the police department in the Liandu district in Lishui, Zhejiang province, to back up her tips.
"I deserve imprisonment for theft, but so do the corrupt officials. If the reports can help expose them, maybe I can get my sentence reduced," she said.
Tang said that from 2006 until this year, she specialised in stealing from local official buildings.
"It used to be easy," said Tang, who is on bail while she is breastfeeding her younger child. She compared her work as a burglar to that of an office cleaner, returning to the office only to find it filled again with gifts, coupons and even cash.
However, in 2012, she started to find officials' offices staying cleaner, she said, "a reaction to the nationwide anti-corruption drive".
It was then she started to consider giving up the trade. On the one hand, her twin elder daughters, now 6, are getting older. "I don't want them to know that I'm a thief," she said.
On the other hand, she said, "seeing the office staying cleaner, I could see that my days in this business would soon be over."
At the same time, Tang became more cautious, taking pictures of the things she stole in the offices.
The Liandu district's police department is still investigating the seven cases Tang reported.
Tang's report followed a confession from her friend, Fang Yunyun, who was sentenced to prison for 10 years for stealing.
Earlier in July, Fang said she stole shopping cards and gifts worth more than 2 million yuan (S$406,000) from two officials' homes in Anhui province in May. She said she later reported to the provincial discipline committee and the local procuratorate that she saw in the officials' homes ownership papers for a 300-square-meter villa and a 1,800-square-meter plot of land.
However, she said her confessions of stealing from the officials were not taken into account by the local court during her sentencing.
Fang, who is pregnant and due to give birth on Sept 10, is serving her sentence outside prison. She told local media that she reported the cases because she wanted a reduced sentence so that she could better take care of her child.
Ni Haolan, a lawyer at Zhejiang Handing Law Firm, said any sentence reduction should be decided by the local court.
"Their confessions and tips are separate actions. The tips cannot necessarily lead to reduced sentences," he said.