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November 4, 2009

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Students recruited to fight pickpockets

POLICE in a central China city have started recruiting college and secondary school students as volunteers in a crackdown on pickpockets.

Authorities plan to sign up 2,000 students from 21 schools in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province.

The student volunteers will patrol public venues like shopping centers and hospitals to help officers catch pickpockets.

Some volunteers started training late last month.

Students were taught to identify pickpockets' slang terms, China Youth Daily reported yesterday.

Veteran police officers offered them training courses and also warned them of risks they might face.

"It's dangerous, so you should be disciplined," said Yu Xi, a barricade chief in the anti-pickpocket section of Zhengzhou police.

"A colleague of mine, aged 35, died while on duty."

Yu, who has battled pickpockets for more than a decade, taught students some tricks of bag snatchers.

"They may have their own pockets cut open and put their hands in to steal through the holes," Yu said.

"You cannot see a thief's face when you chase behind him or her so you should remember the color of the clothes and the hairstyle."

All students must wear red armbands marked with the words "anti-pickpocket volunteer" to ensure their safety.

A patrolling team would always have five volunteers working together and they were not allowed to take direct action but report to the officer leading the team or call for police backup.

Zhengzhou authorities have also organized local residents to tighten public security.

Each township in Zhengzhou's urban areas now boasts a patrolling team of 300 people while in rural areas 100-member volunteer teams have been established.


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