CRIME: Richmond cops pick up pickpocket artists

TWO pickpocket artists, one 43 years old and the other 48 years old, have been nabbed by the Richmond RCMP Quick Response Team (QRT) following a three- month investigation.

The pickpockets, or distraction theft artists, usually targeted victims located in the food court areas of local Richmond shopping malls. As victims entered and sat down in the food court, the pickpockets allegedly watched for victims who specifically hung their coats on the backs of chairs.

The pickpockets would allegedly sit in close proximity to their victims and steal their wallets, cell phones, keys, or other personal items from their coats. Richmond RCMP investigators started noticing a pattern in the frequency people were reporting lost property in those areas. With the assistance of the Richmond RCMP crime analysts, police were able to narrow their focus. Two males were subsequently arrested and charged:

* Abdelmotalib Elatouabi, 48, of Vancouver has been charged with five counts of theft under $5000.

* Kacem Jakani, 43, of Vancouver has been charged with three counts of theft under $5000.

Corporal Ray Basi of the Richmond RCMP Quick Response Team says, “We were a bit surprised by the ages of the accused and how daring they were in the commission of their crimes.”