Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

TALKING EUROPE

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin: ‘Ukraine is existential for the European project’

Read more

ENCORE!

Video: Ken Loach wins his second Palme d'Or in Cannes

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

Plastic planet: Using today's resources tomorrow

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

The European Union: United in nationalism?

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Chinese billionaire opens theme park to rival Disneyland

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Hiroshima's healing hug

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Uganda terror trial: Five jailed for life for 2010 al Shabaab World Cup bombings

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

French labour strikes, Paris raids on Google and McDonald's (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Obama in Hiroshima and Austria's close call (part 1)

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

2016-05-26 Ukraine

Ukraine: Searching for missing people in Donbass

For the past two years, Ukraine has been divided. Despite several truces, clashes continue in the eastern regions between pro-Russian separatists and government forces. According...

Read more

2016-05-20 El Salvador

El Salvador held hostage by gangs

Last year in El Salvador, more than one person in every 1,000 was killed, a figure more typical of a country at war. The vast majority of these victims are young men, members of...

Read more

2016-05-13 Eritrea

Video: A visa for Eritrea, the 'African North Korea'

Eritrea, a small nation on the Horn of Africa, is one of the most isolated countries in the world. It is also one of the most secretive, and has been duly nicknamed the “African...

Read more

2016-05-04 Israel

Palestinian ‘knife intifada’ reflects a generation's despair

For the past seven months, Israelis have faced an unprecedented wave of violence: not a real “intifada”, but a series of almost daily "lone wolf" knife attacks. These are not...

Read more

2016-04-28 USA

The vicious cycle of student debt in the US

Student debt in the United States now stands at over a trillion dollars. And it’s going up, to the tune of 2,700 dollars per second. FRANCE 24 reporters Philip Crowther and...

Read more