A woman enters a jewellery store, asks to be shown a necklace from the cabinet, puts it around her neck and then sprints for the door.

Panicked, the shop assistant leaps over the counter and runs after her, only to stop, embarrassed, when the woman stops to admire the necklace in a mirror as if she never intended to steal the piece of jewellery in the first place.

Sound ridiculous? Welcome to the absurd “jewellery-stealing prank” that has taken off in China, with people posting videos of themselves online looking like they’re about to – and then not – stealing jewellery.

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The “prank” may turn out to be a publicity stunt, though it is not clear what it might be advertising, given we never see any detail of the jewellery and the “thief” ends up looking like a callous joker.

But it is the latest in a series of viral trends focused around consumption and possessions to have taken off in Asia.

The “jewellery-stealing” is thought to copy the “shoe-stealing prank” that was popularised by Indonesian Instagram influencer Harvinth Skin, who posted a video of himself putting on a pair of expensive trainers and the sprinting out of the shop, only to turn around and sprint back in, as if he was just checking their performance.

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