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September 17, 2012

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'Wall-knocking' gang members given 16 months in prison, fines

TWO "wall-knocking" gang members who monopolized the household renovation business in local neighborhoods and forced residents to hire them have been sentenced to jail, a local court said yesterday.

Both suspects got 16 months in prison and a 5,000 yuan (US$791) fine, with all their illegal income confiscated, according to the Qingpu District People's Court. It was the city's first verdict of its kind after city housing administration officials vowed to crack down on the "violent monopoly" this month.

According to the court, the two men profiteered by asking for 20,000 yuan for a project normally costing about 7,800 yuan. The gang earned 61,400 yuan in just two months.

Shanghai police announced this month that they had detained 34 suspects for monopolizing the business of interior demolition across the city's residential areas, charging many times more than market prices.

Most of the gangs were first hired by property management companies to transport demolition trash but started to monopolize other businesses.

The housing administration bureau chief earlier this month vowed to cut off links between property management firms and the renovation gangs to root out the illegal practice.

The city has gotten at least 170 complaints in a few months, according to the Shanghai Housing Support and Building Administration Bureau.

The bureau said it was joining with police to investigate the complaints case by case. While gang members would be punished by law, the housing watchdog said it would ferret out property management workers who collaborated with the gangs.


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