ORGANISED CRIME

Paris police dismantle gang of international thieves targeting elderly shoppers

A picture taken on April 9, 2021 shows the outside of the Paris Judiciary Police headquarters.
A picture taken on April 9, 2021 shows the outside of the Paris Judiciary Police headquarters. AFP - STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN

Police in Paris have arrested three Romanians suspected of carrying out a string of robberies targeting elderly people in dozens of supermarkets. The trio is wanted for similar crimes in at least four other European countries.

Advertising

Investigators from the Banditry Repression Brigade – a special forces unit in charge of armed robberies, serious burglaries and scams – apprehended the trio earlier this week following a surveillance operation in the suburbs of Paris.

Aged between 35 and 43, the men were seen behaving strangely in Franprix and Lidl stores, where they reportedly observed elderly customers doing their shopping before carrying out pickpocketing "raids”.

A tailing system was set up by BDR investigators, a part of the Parisian Judicial Police, who noted a rise in the number of customers over 80 years old being pickpocketed. 

Le Parisien newspaper reported that between 5 May and 18 May, eight to 12 supermarkets per day were targeted in Vincennes, Villejuif, Massy and Villebon-sur-Yvette.

The men were taken into custody while exiting a Lidl store on Tuesday. After initially denying any wrongdoing, the trio confessed to a developing a scheme to rob the elderly.

Investigators found several thousand euros in cash during a search of their apartment.

They later learned the men were wanted by European police for similar operations in Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy.

Two of the suspects are the subjects of arrest warrants.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning