TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Three elderly women were arrested today (Feb. 14) for pickpocketing in traditional Taipei markets as they preyed on frenzied shoppers buying last-minute gifts just before the Lunar New Year, reported Liberty Times.
As many pickpockets take advantage of the crowds seen before and during Lunar New Year, Taipei Police's anti-theft unit has been conducting sweeps for thieves in major traditional markets in the greater Taipei area, such as the Ren'ai Market, Lixing Guangguan Market and Xizhou Market. In their latest sweep, they nabbed three notorious "grandma class" pickpockets each with 40-plus years of experience under their belts.
The oldest of the three was a 71-year-old woman identified as Huang Chin-chih (黃金枝), who has a lengthy criminal record in Taichung and thus had traveled to Taipei in hopes of not being spotted. When she was arrested, she said that her son had failed to support her and justified her actions as a means to survive.
The second oldest was a 64-year-old woman identified as Pan (Chiu-lan) 潘秋蘭, who from the age of 20 had already entered a pickpocketing ring and now already counts as a "grandmother master" elder member of the gang. When she was arrested, she also played the sympathy card by acting pitiful and saying that she was doing it just to get food and clothing for her family, and hoped that the police would just let her go.
The third suspect was a 59-year-old Vietnamese woman identified as Lin Shih-hui (林氏惠) who was already on her fifth trip to Taiwan on a visitor visa. According to police, as she came back with each trip with many spoils, she has made Taiwan a regular destination and it is suspected that she is being supported by a crime syndicate behind the scenes.
Police said that the suspects were targeting shoppers in the bustling markets as they try to buy special gifts for the Lunar Year Year. The thieves would come in close physical contact with their victims so they could steal items in their purses or cell phones.
The officers arrested the women after being caught in the act of stealing, and following questioning, they were sent to the New Taipei City Prosecutor's Office on charges of theft.