As part of efforts in the nationwide "toilet revolution" campaign, management at the People's Park in Chengdu, the thriving capital of China's Sichuan province, began providing free toilet paper in all its restrooms from April 8. However, authorities found that the first batch of 1,500 rolls of toilet paper were gone in just seven days, the Chengdu Business Daily reported yesterday.
An official told the newspaper that an investigation found that 30 restrooms were emptied of toilet paper in just one hour.
The toilet paper thieves may cost the park up to 100,000 yuan (or approximately $14,528) a year, Feng Huiling, the official in charge of the People's Park, said, adding that some tourists have even been caught dismantling toilets' pedal flush handles to "sell them for money."
If the problem persists, 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 the official 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 authorities faced an increasing number of local residents raiding the public park's restrooms for toilet paper.
Visitors now must allow the machine to scan their faces before it dispenses about 60-centimetres of toilet paper. The software will will not dispense additional toilet paper within nine minutes of a person's first scan.
Tiantan Park claims a total of 30 rolls of paper were used in just one toilet on one day last winter, the majority of which were stolen, the Beijing Evening News reported in March.
"Sometimes we have to replenish the toilet paper every 20 minutes," a park attendant was quoted as saying.