A Malaysian student was delighted to have his stolen iPhone returned – though it seems the light-fingered thief could not resist taking a couple of selfies first. Taunting him in the recent photos was the face of the robber: a Macaque monkey.

Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, from Johur could not believe a monkey stole his phone until he saw the pictures. The phone which first went missing on Wednesday was taken while Zackrydz was sleeping.

The incident unnerved him as the brazen thief had broken into his bedroom where the device was charging, leaving the phone case behind.

Thief: The monkey was better at taking phones than pictures. Photo / Zackrydz Rodzi via AP Photo
Thief: The monkey was better at taking phones than pictures. Photo / Zackrydz Rodzi via AP Photo

When his father saw a monkey the next day, he launched a search in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother's phone to call the device, he found it covered in mud under a palm tree. But a bigger surprise came when he checked his phone and found a series of monkey selfies and videos recorded in the phone.

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"My uncle was joking that maybe the monkey took some selfies with the phone. ... So when I checked my phone picture gallery, I was shocked. The suspect's face was plastered on the screen. It was hilarious," Zackrydz said.

"Assalammualaikum," he wrote to Facebook. "Thank God my phone has been found. Apparently it wasn't stolen by a thief or toyol or what."

He said he was curious why the monkey took the phone and not the camera or other things in his room. He said the primate must have thought it was food as it has a colourful casing.

Most of the images were blurry, but some showed the monkey's face. One of the videos taken from atop a tree showed glimpses of the monkey opening his mouth and appearing to try to eat the phone.

"My house is now in a total lockdown," Zackrydz said, laughing, adding that he didn't want a repeat of the incident.

Sharing the picture with press and via on social media, Zackrydz captioned the pictures "All legit, taken using monkey fingers. 'Shot from monkey'.

Zackrydz Rodzi was delighted and surprised to get his phone and the photos back. Photo / Zackrydz Rodzi via AP Photo
Zackrydz Rodzi was delighted and surprised to get his phone and the photos back. Photo / Zackrydz Rodzi via AP Photo

While the macaque was a phone thief, Zackrydz did not want to be accused of stealing credit from the monkey.

Although the photos are not spectacularly clear, this is not the first time a macaque has turned a paw to photography on a stolen phone.

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In 2017 British wildlife photographer settled a legal battle with animal rights group PETA, over a photo taken by a monkey on his device.

In 2011 a monkey picked up the camera of David Slater and took a series of snaps. One of the images taken by the grinning monkey in the Indonesian jungle brought viral fame to the photographer – something the animal rights group argued was not Slater's to monetise. They argued the royalties should go to animal protection projects – in the macaque's best interest.

The fatuous case was thrown own by a US court after a judge said a monkey's photos could not be granted copyright protection. However, Slater agreed outside of court to donate 25 per cent of future revenue to projects protecting Indonesian macaques.

The monkey was also let off without charge. Jurors agreed the selfie-stealing animal's only crime was vanity.

- AP with additional reporting