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Deaf gang accused of burglaries at shops, cafes

Deaf gang accused of burglaries at shops, cafes

Updated: 2012-03-26 07:43

By Guo Rui in Wuhan (China Daily)

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Police in Wuhan have arrested a gang of disabled people they suspect of carrying out a string of burglaries in the city.

All six male suspects charged on Thursday, including one aged under 16, are deaf and unable to speak, according to authorities in Hubei province.

They are accused of working together to commit nine crimes in three days, starting Feb 23.

Police said the gang targeted grocery stores and coffee bars, breaking in after closing time to steal cash totaling about 20,000 yuan ($3,200).

Before arriving in Wuhan, it is believed the gang pulled off a series of similar heists in South China's Guangdong province.

The suspects, who have an average age of 23, originate from various parts of the country, said Xiao Xiang, an official at the city's Jiang'an district public security bureau.

The minor has been returned to his hometown in Shandong province, in accordance with the law, he added.

Liu Haixuan, who is heading the investigation, said about five thefts involving disabled crooks occur every year in his jurisdiction.

"They (criminals who are deaf or unable to speak) usually go out in groups to steal," he said.

"These suspects are always caught stealing, rather than any other type of crime, but it's rare for them to steal large amounts."

In a signed confession released to the media by police, the gang's leader Yang Fan said: "We have nowhere to make money, so we have to depend on (stealing)."

He and his co-accused are "outcasts ignored by society", said the 29-year-old, stating that they had struggled to get an education as children and are now unable to find work.

Yang added in his confession that the gang begged in the streets of Shenzhen in Guangdong before moving to Wuhan.

"We never broke people's facilities or took large assets," said another suspect identified only as Liang, according to police.

"We just needed some cash."

Seven other suspects, who are believed to be friends of the apprehended gang and also disabled, were detained by police at a train station in Changsha, capital of Hunan province.

They were later released without charge.