Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Weiner strikes again

Read more

THE DEBATE

Colombia's Path to Peace: Can historic deal with FARC rebels work? (part 1)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Colombia's Path to Peace: Can historic deal with FARC rebels work? (part 2)

Read more

FOCUS

The rise of political tourism in the Middle East

Read more

ENCORE!

Music show: Video Music Awards, Rock en Seine and Puppa Lek Sen

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

The Gulf of Porto, a paradise of land and sea

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Quarterback takes a stand by sitting down

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

The hidden secrets of Les Invalides

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Anger over restaurant's decision to deny service to Muslim women

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. And you can watch it online as early as Friday.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

Latest update : 2012-06-15

France: behind the scenes in the war on Romanian gangs

In Paris, locals and tourists often see young Roma gypsies in the street, near tourist attractions trying to get people to sign "petitions", or distract their attention. But behind these young Roma lies a large-scale trafficking operation.

They arrive early in the morning in front of the Paris Opera, one of the busiest tourist spots in the French capital. But the 20 Roma children brought from Romania are not there to see the sights.

Armed with a notebook bearing the logo of a charity for the deaf and mute, they attempt to persuade passers-by to give them donations. But the charity doesn't exist, and the children aren't deaf or mute. The scam works quite well - some tourists give as much as 10 or 20 euros in notes. But the girls don't keep the money long.

The gang leaders are just a few yards away, keeping a discreet eye on operations. Every half hour, they gather the money collected by the children.

Meanwhile, other groups of children are taken to the very centre of Paris, where they split up along the main boulevards. They walk beside the cafes, snatching iPhones that tourists have left on the outside tables. Again, they use the fake petition as a decoy. One second is enough to distract the unsuspecting tourist, before both phone and children disappear in a flash...

Using a hidden camera, we found the stolen smartphones for sale at a market in a suburb in the east of Paris. A woman offers us the very latest model, normally sold at 800 euros, for 250 euros. It's a lucrative business - according to the police, a child can steal as many as five iPhones a day.

To put an end to this criminal network, 17 Romanian police officers have been assigned to France. They are specialised in fighting this type of trafficking.

We followed them during their investigation and at the police stations in Paris where Roma are arrested every day. This unique partnership between French and Romanian police aims to stamp out the criminal networks which have transformed the Roma children into money-making machines.

By Mirel BRAN

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2016-08-26 DR Congo

Getting away with murder in DR Congo

For more than a year and a half, a series of massacres - which have never been claimed - have been committed in the Beni region in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo....

Read more

2016-08-04 Afghanistan

Afghanistan's Kunduz, a city under Taliban threat

The northern Afghan city of Kunduz is being slowly rebuilt after it briefly fell to the Taliban last year, and a hospital was destroyed by US air strikes supporting Afghan ground...

Read more

2016-07-29 2016 Olympics

Video: Olympic refugee team goes for gold

Of all the athletes competing at the Olympics in Rio, there are ten in particular who stand out. They are all refugees who have fled war, terror and violence. Fleeing DR Congo,...

Read more

2016-07-08 history

Video: The trial of Chad's ex-dictator Habré, an inconvenient ally

In May, former Chadian president Hissène Habré, who ruled his country with an iron fist between 1982 and 1990, was sentenced to life in prison for "crimes against humanity,...

Read more

2016-07-01 agriculture

Video: FRANCE 24 speaks to French farmers in crisis

France is the EU's largest agricultural producer, but its farmers are faced with administrative constraints, falling sales prices and debt. Many are pushed into depression and...

Read more