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September 7, 2012

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Beware, the wall-demolition gang's here

CITY police said yesterday that they have busted four "wall-knocking" gangs which monopolized the household decoration business in local neighborhoods and forced residents to hire them when walls in their houses had to be demolished as part of a renovation.

The police said 34 people had been arrested and cited an incident that occurred in March this year that provide the basis for the earliest arrests.

On March 13, a woman surnamed Wang reported that a decoration worker she had hired was blocked from entering her apartment building in Baoshan District and was badly beaten up by three guys.

"They said they were appointed by the property management company and were the only guys allowed to do the business in the residential area," Wang told police.

The suspects, two brothers surnamed Cheng and the other man surnamed Wang, were detained. The suspects said they had signed agreements with property management companies to transport construction trash in the area and then tried to monopolize the wall-breaking business in the neighborhood.

Their price was 10 to 20 times the market rate, police said.

It is a common practice among local families to demolish interior walls when they redecorate their homes.

This was not the first such case in the city, however.

Last month, a man surnamed Zhu was caught by Qingpu District police for threatening decoration workers in a residential area, asking them to quit their business.

On June 12, also in Qingpu, a man surnamed Liu and another surnamed Gu were detained by police after they forced seven families to hire them for the wall demolishing and digging operations in March. In fact, the duo had agreed to a 8,000 yuan fee from each household but after completing the work they charged 16,000 yuan each.

Last February, two gangs even fought each other for business in a residential area in Huaxin Town, also in Qingpu, in which 14 people were taken into custody.

Meanwhile, local authorities have pledged to crackdown on such gangs that force people to buy their so-called decoration service.

The housing administration bureau chief on Monday vowed to cut off links between property management firms and the decoration service gangs to root out the illegal practice.

The city has received 170 complaints from alleged victims over the past few months, according to the Shanghai Housing Support and Building Administration Bureau.

The bureau said it was now teaming up with police to probe into these complaints case by case. While the involved gangsters would be punished by law, the housing watchdog said it would ferret out property management workers who collaborated with these gangs.


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