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August 5, 2009

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65 suspected burglars caught napping by cops

SHANGHAI police broke up a major burglary ring in Minhang District yesterday in what they said was the biggest security action in a decade.

The raid was part of an ongoing campaign to cut the city's crime rate ahead of next year's World Expo.

Yesterday's pre-dawn blitz involved 658 officers including detectives and SWAT teams who busted into three main hideouts in a residential area on Yindu Road.

Sixty-five suspects, mainly from Jiangxi Province, were taken into custody as well as a cache of stolen goods, including 20 laptops and an undisclosed number of cell phones and bank cards and cars used in the commission of the crimes.

The value of the property seized was not reported, and the case remains under investigation.

Right before the raid, police assembled at a primary school on Puer Road, a 10-minute walk from the target complex, to wait for the suspects to return to their hideouts.

The burglars usually went out to steal at 11pm and returned to sleep at 4am, according to the city police.

The roundup began at 4:32am, as special police teams rushed from their vehicles and broke into the three apartments at the same time. Taken by surprise, the suspects were caught sleeping.

To make sure no one got way, three teams were assigned for the mission: one to break into the apartments, another to raid several hotel rooms where some suspects were hiding and a third to secure the site against escape.

Yesterday's raid followed another unrelated bust two months ago, when police in Hongkou District cracked a series of theft cases and apprehended a large burglary gang.

Members of that burglary gang were reported to climb into apartments in multi-story buildings to steal personal belongings and were allegedly responsible for about 100 burglaries in Minhang, Xuhui, Baoshan and Hongkou districts, police said.

The efforts were part of an Expo-related crime cleanup that started on April 15 and will continue to the end of next year, according to Yang Weigen, deputy director of the Shanghai General Team of Criminal Investigations.

"We are working hard to combat robberies, burglaries and swindles throughout the city," Yang said.

As of the end of last month, Shanghai police involved in the campaign had solved more than 16,000 cases and caught more than 10,000 suspects, including 700 gangs.

The police also seized 3,360 knives and guns and stolen property valued at 9 million yuan (US$1.3 million.)


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