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Paris Metro pickpocketing gang jailed for a total of 113 years

The Local France
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Paris Metro pickpocketing gang jailed for a total of 113 years
Photo: AFP

A pickpocket gang that targeted the Paris Metro have been jailed for a total of 113 years.

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The Romanian gang leaders were charged with offences of human trafficking, as well as money laundering and criminal association.

The 20-strong gang, all settled members of the Roma community, had exploited its children by sending them into the Paris Metro system to steal from commuters and tourists, the court heard.

READ ALSO 14 simple ways to avoid Paris pickpockets and petty thieves

Gang members were given sentences of between four and eight years.
 
This three-week trial was the result of investigations which began at the end of 2016 after a sharp increase in pickpocketing in the Metro.
 
Groups of children aged from 11 to 18, stole travellers' phones and wallets, most often on the Metro stairs. While one or more diverted the victims' attention, another stole the objects and passed them on to accomplices who quickly concealed them, before each fled on his own.
 
These bands, which favoured tourist Metro stations such as Gare du Nord, were particularly active during the Euro 2016 football tournament.
 
The investigation involved Franco-Romanian judicial cooperation and ended with the simultaneous arrest in France, Romania, Spain and Italy of the majority of suspects, parents of exploited minors.
 
Pickpocketing has long been a problem on the Paris Metro, with tourists often the targets.
 
The thieves work in organised gangs and often provide diversions such as dropping something or starting an argument, while another member of the gang takes the items.
 
Other techniques include pretending to be tourists and offering confused visitors help with the ticket machines.
 
 

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