China's notorious toilet paper thieves have struck again, stripping a park in Chengdu city of 1,500 rolls in just one week, forcing authorities to consider installing facial recognition machines to beat the penny- pinching paper bandits.
As part of efforts in the nationwide "toilet revolution" campaign, management at the People's Park in Chengdu, China's Sichuan Province started providing free toilet paper in all its restrooms on April 8.
However, the park authorities found that the first batch of 1,500 rolls of paper were gone in seven days, the Chengdu Business Daily reported yesterday.
Feng Huiling, secretary of the park's Party branch, told the newspaper that an investigation found that 30 restrooms were emptied of paper in just one hour.
Toilet paper use far exceeded expectations.
The toilet paper thieves may cost the park up to 100,000 yuan (USD 14,528) a year, Feng said, adding that some tourists have even been caught dismantling toilets' pedal flush handles to "sell them for money."
If the problem continues, they may follow the example of Beijing's Tiantan Park and install machines with face scanners to regulate use, state-run Global Times today quoted Feng as saying.
Tiantan Park, home to the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, introduced six high-tech dispensers that dole out toilet paper only after conducting a facial scan.
The pilot programme kicked off recently after the authorities faced an increasing number of local residents raiding the park's restrooms for toilet paper.
Tourists now must allow the machine to scan their faces before it dispenses a 60-centimeter serving of toilet paper.
The software will deny the same person another helping of toilet paper within nine minutes of their first scan.
Tiantan Park claims a total of 30 rolls of paper were used in just one toilet on one day in winter, the majority of which were stolen, the Beijing Evening News reported in March.
"Sometimes we have to refill the toilet paper every 20 minutes," a park attendant was quoted as saying.