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June 28, 2010

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Police catch 23 theft suspects

TWENTY-THREE suspects have been caught for allegedly stealing at wet markets around Metro stations, police said yesterday.

Fifteen of the suspects have been detained as police said they retrieved about 30,000 yuan (US$4,418) worth of stolen items including cell phones and cash.

Metro police said it was the biggest theft gang caught since the World Expo opened on May 1. As of Saturday, 19 theft cases had been solved, but investigations were ongoing.

The suspects worked as a team, targeting residents in wet markets near Line 3's Jiangwan Town station and Shanghai Railway station, police said.

Usually, four or five of the suspects surrounded a victim while one of them would use tweezers to steal items from their pockets or bags. If caught in the act, the suspects would physically threaten victims, police said.

On June 14, a victim surnamed Han had his digital camera stolen while bargaining with a vegetable seller.

A suspect surnamed Li took Han's camera from his unzipped bag while other gang members distracted him by pretending to buy vegetables, police said. Han did not notice his camera was stolen.

The same day, some of the suspects were seen trying to steal from a senior at a wet market on Yuyingtang Road in Zhabei District.

However, when the victim asked them to stop, the group crowded around the man, shouting abuse at him. The old man was rescued by others at the market, police said.

Last Wednesday, 1,800 yuan was stolen from a victim surnamed Liu while he started his moped outside a wet market.

Liu was surrounded by the suspects and the money was taken with a pair of tweezers, officers said.

All 23 suspects were caught last Thursday when 60 police officers raided a bathhouse. Police said they retrieved five pairs of tweezers and seven knives from the suspects.

Police said the 23 suspects were from across the country and all of them had criminal records.


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