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June 2, 2012

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Pickpocket arrests made

SHANGHAI police yesterday busted a six-member gang for pickpocketing middle-aged women in the city's wet markets.

The suspects, from the municipality of Chongqing and the provinces of Guizhou, Henan and Jiangxi, were allegedly responsible for dozens of thefts since April, with a total value of more than 80,000 yuan (US$12,560).

According to the preliminary investigation, the six suspects were all unemployed and had criminal records for theft.

"When you were picking food and bargaining in the market, you might already have been targeted by the suspects," an officer from the Hongkou District police department said yesterday.

The crimes caught the attention of police in April, when many middle-aged women reported one theft after another while shopping in wet markets. The suspects always targeted middle-aged or older women in markets in Hongkou, Baoshan, Zhabei, Putuo and Yangpu districts.

"Once they got them, they would quickly drive away to steal in the next wet market," police said.

After over six weeks of investigation, police moved in and made arrests yesterday. One suspect tried to escape by jumping into a creek in the Zoumatang area in the city's Baoshan District but ran out of energy and surrendered, police said.

Ji Xialin, a director in the criminal investigation unit of the Hongkou police, reminded yesterday that street pickpocketing cases usually increase in summer.


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