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Police are seeking to dismantle a network of Romanian pickpockets run by a “Fagin figure” targeting the streets of Camden.

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Officers rounded up gangs of alleged petty thieves who are said to prey on tourists and residents in the borough on Friday (February 24).

They seized laptops, credit cards, and cash from five properties and searched for paperwork linking the alleged pickpockets to higher ranks of the suspected criminal gang.

Det Supt Richard Tucker said: “There is strong evidence that this is an organised criminal network. These people we have arrested are the low end of the operation.

“From evidence and past operations there will be someone in the back ground pulling the strings and they will be where the money ends up.”

Police swooped on homes in Haringey, Newham, Enfield, Barking and Dagenham, in a bid to “squeeze” the organised gang.

Officers spoke to more than 50 adults in connection with crimes in Camden and have arrested 30 people in the last month.

At one three-bedroom house in Dagenham two mothers were arrested for allegedly stealing iPhones from coffee shops and bars.

In a top-down search of the property where 12 people were living, officers discovered laptops, cash and mobile phone computer chips in cupboards and clothes.

A man was also arrested for allegedly having a collection of bank cards all in different names.

“These people live in very poor conditions and whereas before we were looking at arresting one person for one offence we’re looking to go further and find the next person through any bank statements or paperwork we can find,” said Det Supt Tucker. “We’re looking at who owns these houses and why this number of people are allowed to live here.

“We might not have the serious crime like other boroughs do, but this is the sort of crime that hits Camden. People coming into the borough and preying on visitors.

“This is an organised criminal network and these kinds of jobs are about taking the fight to their doorsteps. This is only the beginning.”

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