At 1:35 a.m. (1635 GMT) on Friday, the three armed with a bolt cutter and a large industrial hammer arrived at an exhibition hall in Hampyeong about 280 kilometers (173 miles) southwest of Seoul that housed a glittering and fascinating gold sculpture.
After cutting open the metal shutter to get into the hall with a cave-like interior, the robbers could not go forward through a corridor to reach the bat sculpture shining behind a layer of bulletproof glasses. They had to run away aboard a vehicle due to a noisy security alert that called in security guards, according to police in Hampyeong.
Police retrieved the hammer abandoned. Even if the robbers managed to reach the gold bat, they could not move it. The sculpture and its case together weigh more than 570kg.
Police launched a manhunt while collecting evidence and analyzing CCTV footages in the hall, which was built by Hampyeong County to educate visitors about habitat conservation and preservation of an endangered species known as a "golden bat" because of its rusty orange fur, which has been protected in South Korea as one the most well-known and iconic wild animals.
More than 160 golden bats were found in Hampyeong in 2008. They have been designated as a natural monument in South Korea because there are only hundreds in a handful of localities.
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