Beijing’s Temple of Heaven park has installed six machines

A park in Beijing has introduced facial recognition machines to prevent thieves from stealing toilet paper.

According to Quartz, Beijing’s Temple of Heaven park has around 30,000 to 40,000 visitors per day and suffers from “chronic toilet paper theft”. To combat the crime, the park introduced six facial recognition machines on Friday

Park staff reportedly were tired of watching visitors stealing masses of toilet paper and stuffing it into their backpacks. Toilet paper thieving has been a problem in the park since 2007.

Xing Qinxin, park spokesman, said more low-tech methods were trialled before, “our cleaning staffers have tried talking people out of stealing and we’ve applied other machines, none of that worked well.”

Machines have been installed on the walls outside of the ladies’ and men’s restrooms at the north, east and west entrances of the park. Users are asked to stare at the machine’s screens for three seconds in order to dispense a sheet of two-ply paper – 60 to 60cm. For an additional sheet, the user must wait for another nine minutes.

Xing added that facial data was not stored by the park.

However, the park’s new initiative has resulted in hassle. During peak times at the park, such as morning exercises and weekends, staff had to spend time teaching people how to use the machines.

Cleaning staff also need to carry stashes of toilet paper in case a visitor experiences an emergency such as diarrhoea, according to Xing.