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August 9, 2010

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Police detain 4 in brazen TV thefts

A GANG of television thieves have been caught, city police said yesterday, adding that the thefts seemed to have been inspired by old train robbery movies.

Police said the four members of "the well organized group" had been detained. The gang has stolen more than 40 televisions worth about 160,000 yuan (US$23,648) since last year, according to police.

Police said the four gang members used motorcycles to drive alongside flatbed trucks delivering home appliances. One person would jump onto the truck at a stop, but sometimes while it was moving, grab a TV and get back on the motorcycle.

Officers said the thieves were so good that they could complete this process in 5 seconds.

The thieves choose 32-inch televisions because they are relatively small and easier to carry compared to other appliances on delivery trucks, police said.

The gang had a spotter who would monitor the routes of delivery trucks, police said. One member stayed on an overpass leading to Baoshan District, police said. He would stay there for hours before spotting delivery trucks and informing other members.

Three members were nabbed in June in their rented residence in Baoshan. The other was caught in his hometown in Anhui Province.

The stolen TVs were sold at 2,000 yuan to 3,000 yuan each, police said.

Police became aware of the case after a local logistics company, based in suburban Qingpu District, was alerted after it received frequent complaints of TVs disappearing during delivery. Most of the missing goods disappeared on the route to Baoshan.

One company manager, surnamed Zhang, said they received "complaints from both buyers and sellers."

Police soon learned of what the gang was doing based on surveillance camera videos after truck drivers told officers they remembered being followed by motorcycles.

The gang also used the motorcycles for an illegal taxi business, officers said.


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