A sophisticated pickpocket gang which ran its operations like a organised business, racked up more than £5 million by stealing thousands of mobile phones on the tube has been jailed for over 30 years.
The group earned £10,000 daily by stealing the mobile phones from commuters on the London Underground.
The gang worked like a legitimate business with the ‘boss’, Nawid Moshfiq, hiring new pickpockets to join the team and organised shifts for the thieves. Nawid Moshfiq encouraged his ‘staff’ to work between the hours of 2pm and 10pm as he thought those times were the most profitable.
The huge operation was only uncovered when over 100 officers, involved in Operation Park, simultaneously raided several properties and business premises where they seized over one thousand mobile phones and £143,000 cash.
At one ‘safe house’ alone police found £23,000 that was hidden around the house, including inside children’s clothing.
Operation Park, which started over two years ago was set up to bring down the gang, has now seen 11 members of the gang sentenced for conspiracy to handle stolen goods and money laundering offences.
‘Boss’ Moshfiq, 39, from Brentford, Essex, was sentenced to five years behind bars for conspiracy to handle stolen goods, three years for money laundering and 18 months for possession of criminal property, running concurrently.
Other members of the gang – Paramijit Singh Karla, 42, Harmeet Bhatia, 24, Pritbal Bhatia 55, and Nirmohan Bhatia, 20, Ranjit Banger, 31, Mubarak Korasi, 41, Ahmed Raza , 28, Ariji Singh Sethi, 43, and Nirmohan Singh, 38, all received prison sentences varying between two and three years long.
Olia Moshfiq, 36, from Brentford, the only female member of the gang received two years for conspiracy to launder money and possession of criminal property.
Detective Chief Inspector John Justice said: ‘This was a long and complex investigation into a highly organised criminal gang who used stolen property from the rail network for their personal gain.
‘Phones are often stolen out of view of CCTV in crowded carriages or busy stations without the owner even realising.
‘This makes it hard for us to catch thieves in the act and even when we do, we often find they are only small players in much bigger criminal organisations.