Onlookers Offers No Help as Young Woman is Robbed

December 1, 2007 Updated: December 1, 2007

On November 25, 2007, a young woman in her twenties was beaten by two robbers who intended to snatch her mobile phone and handbag in a cyber café in Xi'an City, China.

While she was wrestling with the robbers and being beaten, none of the 20-plus onlookers, some of whom were café tenders, offered any physical help or gave verbal support. The woman eventually defeated the robbers by herself.

According to a November 27 report in the Sanqin Daily , the woman, whose last name was Ouyang, was heartbroken by the onlookers' indifference. She said, “I could never have imagined that they could rob my belongings with so many people looking on.”

Ouyang walked into the Xi'an City cyber café at about seven o'clock in the evening and placed her mobile phone and handbag on the left side of a computer desk. Before long, two males entered the café. While one walked toward her and spoke to her, the other took away her mobile phone. Ouyang's immediate response was to yell for help, as she knew she had run into robbers. However, people around her just stared without taking any action.

Disregarding her own personal safety, she went after and caught the man who had stolen her mobile phone and wrestled it from him. While she fought, she cried, “Help! Catch the thief! Hurry up!”

In spite of a bleeding nose and swollen eyes due to being hit, Ouyang held fast to the bandit's arm. None of the people at the scene offered help or said a word. No one called 110 for the police.

Ouyang's persistence seemed to have intimidated the robber, who eventually gave up the mobile phone and fled. When she picked the phone up from the floor and looked up, she realized that her handbag beside the computer had disappeared—the other man had stolen the cash, ID card and all her belongings while she was struggling with the first.

Ouyang said, “I started crying at that moment. It was not because of the beatings, but the mental hurt triggered by the indifference of the onlookers.” Owing to excessive sorrow, she has been lying in bed without eating or having any interest in doing anything else. She still can't understand how the two men could be so bold in the full glare of public view.

Ouyang is now preparing to sue the cyber café, intending to raise public awareness on this matter.