Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Nigeria marks 500 days since kidnap of Chibok schoolgirls

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

From Sarkozy to Kim Kardashian: posed celebrity photos

Read more

THE DEBATE

The ‘You Stink’ Movement: Lebanon garbage crisis sparks new wave of protests (part 2)

Read more

THE DEBATE

The ‘You Stink’ Movement: Lebanon garbage crisis sparks new wave of protests (part 1)

Read more

FOCUS

Scandals tarnish reputation of India's pharmaceutical industry

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Ten years after Katrina, New Orleans is bustling

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Shock and horror after two journalists shot dead on-air

Read more

ENCORE!

Has New Orleans got its groove back?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Could this lunatic make it to the White House?'

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.

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

2015-08-21 Kenya

Kenya's Iten: Home of athletic champions

The small town of Iten in Kenya is a long distance runner’s paradise. Dozens of champions have trained in the town, situated at an altitude of 2,600 metres. It has become the...

Read more

2015-08-14 Afghanistan

The Afghan interpreters left behind by the French army

At the end of 2014, the French army completely withdrew from Afghanistan. But it left behind its former Afghan interpreters who now live in fear of the Taliban, who accuse them...

Read more

2015-07-21 Iran

Iran: How the nuclear deal was done

On July 14th, Iran and six world powers struck a deal that brought an end to over 12 years of bitter stalemate. Tehran, suspected by some nations of attempting to acquire an...

Read more

2015-07-17 India

India's Christians forced to pray in secret

Many Christians in India have to pray in secret. Churches are being set on fire, believers attacked and property vandalised. This rising tide of violence shows no sign of...

Read more

2015-07-09 China

Is China choking to death?

A barely visible sun and a thick, smothering smog... After decades of rampant industrialisation, China is suffocating. Last year, the government declared war on pollution and...

Read more