Three men save woman from drowning soon after committing theft

Three young men in Hangzhou saved a woman from drowning just one hour after stealing money from a parked car. Netizens pondered: can heroic behavior atone for crime?

An incident where three men in Hangzhou saved a woman from drowning just one hour after they stole money from a parked car has sparked debate on social media.

On October 8, a car owner reported to police in Yuhang District that 3,000 yuan in cash was stolen from a wallet he left in a car that he parked outside the community. 

After checking security camera footage, police identified the three men suspected of the robbery at around 3am.

Meanwhile, police received another report from a distraught woman who said her female friend accidentally fell into the Shangtang River. But when they arrived at the scene they discovered three young men had already rescued the woman and were comforting her.

After investigation, police were surprised to discover that the trio who saved the woman were the thieves who stole 3,000 yuan. The two cases occurred just one hour apart.

The incidents soon sparked heated debate on social media after being widely reported by media.

Some people thought their saving the woman could help make amends for their previous crime. "The three young men's natural characters are not bad," one netizen commented. "Merits offset faults, so they should be treated more leniently."

Other netizens said they should be applauded for saving the woman but still must receive punishment for theft: "Their heroic behavior deserves our praise but they should also take responsibility for their theft."

The three men, all in their 20s, were caught by police on October 10 at an Internet bar.

They confessed to committing four thefts, including the one mentioned above, and said they always picked cars that were left unlocked. They have been put under criminal detention and further investigation is ongoing.

As for the online controversy, a lawyer in Beijing said saving people couldn't atone for a crime. "The three man did a good deed which should be encouraged and applauded by society, but it can't dismiss their criminal activity, and shouldn't exempt them from the criminal responsibility that they should undertake."

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