If you've ever been pickpocketed whilst travelling on London's tube network, raise a glass to the police this afternoon. Bobbies have just smashed a crime ring that's been making as much as £1 million a year from selling phones stolen predominantly from tube travellers.
The gang, made up primarily of Afghan and British nationals, targeted smartphone owners, employing a network of pickpockets on trains and tubes to swipe handsets. These were then repackaged to appear as though they were brand new (right down to being given new barcodes) before being shipped on to Dubai, northern Africa and eastern Europe.
13 men have been arrested, 1,000 suspected stolen phones recovered and £13,000 in cash and gold bars has been seized. 21 London addresses in total were raided in the early hours of this morning, including two phones shops in east London and an export company in Hounslow. Despite being just a single gang, police believe its members to be responsible for a sizeable portion of all London's transport network thefts. [Standard]