Pickpockets caught red-handed

Thessaloniki police on Monday arrested five men, all Romanian nationals, aged between 21 and 54 years old, on charges of running a pick-pocketing racket in northern Greece, it was announced on Tuesday.

The suspects were caught in the act while following an 81-year-old woman to her home in the Thessaloniki suburb of Kalamaria and trying to extract the amount of 580 euros from her, which she had just withdrawn from an ATM machine nearby.

Police had put the suspects under surveillance after being alerted to their presence by an elderly couple that had come into their crosshairs after making an ATM withdrawal in a botched robbery attempt.

The five men are believed by police to be behind a string of similar robberies, including picking the pockets of three tourists in the town of Kalambaka and an elderly Greek man in Veria.

Investigators believe that the ringleader of the gang was the 54-year-old man, who assigned the other four with duties such as spotting potential victims when they made large withdrawals from ATM machines, shadowing them and creating a distraction while another member of the gang picked their pocket.

The suspects are looking at charges that include racketeering.

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