A stone horse dating from the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.) was stolen in Xianyang, a city in northwestern China's Shaanxi Province, the Xi'an Evening News reported on Saturday.
Local residents move stone statues to a nearby station for safe-keeping after a five-ton stone horse was stolen.
The stone sculpture, weighing five tons, was located in a village in the Weicheng district of Xianyang, a city famous for its importance during the Qin Dynasty (221-C206 B.C.) and Han Dynasty.
It was reported missing early Thursday morning by a local villager during his morning exercise.
The stone horse is one of a pair that watches over the tomb of a Han emperor who died in 188 A.D. The horses, together with another group of stone statues, were carved around 25 A.D. and 220 A.D., respectively.
In 2002, local residents built a station near the statues to keep an eye on them, and supervision was taken over by the official cultural relic protection department in 2005.
Some people wanted to buy the pair of horses in 2002 but were refused, local villagers said.
"We are still wondering how the horse could be stolen when the station is just hundreds of meters away," one said.
Local police are investigating the case while other stone statues have all been moved to the station for better protection, the report said.