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Broke French crime reporter turns to hold ups

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Broke French crime reporter turns to hold ups
A former crime reporter at the Nouvelle Republique followed in the footsteps of the subjects of his articles. But he couldn't learn from their mistakes. Photo: AFP/ Police nationale
15:20 CET+01:00
There was good news and bad news for a crime reporter at a French newspaper this week. On the plus side there was a good story about an armed robber being snared by police, but on the downside, the suspect turned out to be his predecessor on the crime desk.

There aren’t many journalists out there getting rich off their work, especially not that underappreciated newsroom stalwart: the crime reporter. And for one crime beat veteran in the central French city of Blois things just spiralled after retirement.

The retired hack had gone through a nasty divorce, his son was racking up bills for school and his money problems kept growing. That’s when police say he turned to something he’d written about plenty of times, robberies, France Info radio reported.

The 63-year-old former hack for French regional newspaper Nouvelle Republique allegedly donned a wig, fake mustache, gloves and a hefty ‘Clint Eastwood’ revolver and began holding up stores in the area.

He is believed to have hit five shops since September 2013, gathering about €9,000 in cash, up until last week.  His modus operendi was usually the same each time. He’d wait until closing time and then force the workers at gunpoint to turn over the day's takings or the contents of the safe.

But on Monday, after his sixth and final hold up, the cops nabbed him as he walked out of the store in his disguise. It turned out detectives had been watching the old reporter, whom they knew well from his days onthe crime beat, for weeks.

In his time as a reporter, the journalist who wasn’t named, had probably written about the careless criminals who left their wallets at crime scenes or crash into police cars after robbing banks. Butthat didn't stop him making his own mistakes.

After he’d been identified as a suspect police took a look at the retired reporter's bank records and were struck by the timing and amount of the deposits. It turned out he’d been putting the loot into his personal account shortly after the crimes.

The tale should serve as warning to the ex-reporter’s replacement at the Nouvelle Republique, who was forced to write about the arrest. Not surprisingly there is no mention that the suspect used to ply his trade at the paper.

Nouvelle Republique declined to comment on the arrest when contact by France Info. 

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