BEIJING (AP) _ A 1,500-year-old stone statue of Buddha weighing close to two tons was stolen from a house on the outskirts of Beijing, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday.

Four to five thieves snatched the 5-foot, 4-inch relic in the dead of night March 25 from the Dong'erying district and loaded it onto a waiting truck, the agency said.

``We were left no trace after the well-conceived criminal plot,'' said Xu Ming, an official with the Beijing Municipal Cultural Relics Administration.

Even though the statue was listed by the Beijing officials as an important cultural relic, the house where it was displayed had no alarms.

Theft of cultural and artistic treasures from poorly guarded Chinese tombs, temples and museums is rampant. Black market dealers can fetch thousands, and sometimes millions, of dollars from overseas buyers.