5 Dec 2010

Ring of girl pickpockets broken

6:18 am on 5 December 2010

Police in France believe they have broken a large European network of pickpockets who are mostly teenage girls from the Balkans.

Paris prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin says about 100 girls were forced to undergo extensive training before being put to work on the metro.

They accounted for about half of all cases of pickpocketing in the Paris underground metro system since 2008.

Mr Marin said the girls faced the threat of violence and rape if they did not deliver on daily earnings quotas.

Eighteen of the gang's male ringleaders were detained during a series of raids in the south of France and in Italy.

The ring was described as a "completely medieval (gang) structure."