The Korea Herald

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Russian subway pickpockets given suspended sentences

By Choi Jeong-yoon

Published : March 25, 2024 - 15:30

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A group of Russian nationals received suspended prison sentences for pickpocketing passengers in Seoul's subways late last year, according to a local court.

The Seoul Central District Court's Criminal Division 17 handed down one-year sentences, suspended for two years, to three Russian nationals -- two men in their 40s and a 39-year-old woman.

Over a period of nine days in November, the three pickpockets spent an average of five hours a day in Subway Line No. 3 and Line No. 9, where they would get on and off trains and steal from passengers in a coordinated manner.

One person would select a target, while another would create a distraction or use a coat to block the view of nearby passengers. The remaining person would then take the wallet from the target's bag.

The group managed to steal over 2 million won ($1,491) in cash and gift cards from two female passengers.

The three entered South Korea on tourist visas the same month and had planned the crime before entering the country.

An investigation found that the trio planned to flee to Russia within 15 days of completing their pickpocketing scheme. They were caught within five days by police who conducted an undercover investigation following reports of theft.

Upon their capture, the three claimed to have been visiting Korea for sightseeing and shopping.

The court found the three guilty on charges of theft, but noted that it took extenuating circumstances into account when delivering the sentences, saying, "(The court) reached an agreement with the victims and (the culprits) had confessed to the crimes."