Beijing police have caught 24 suspected thieves who targeted tourists viewing the daily flag-raising ceremony in Tiananmen Square, the heart of Beijing.
Police received reports from several tourists who claimed that their property was stolen while watching the flag-raising ceremony, a popular patriotic and tourist activity in China.
One such case occurred in early July when a tourist surnamed Xiang lost 13,000 yuan (around 2,000 US dollars) in cash, seemingly to a pickpocket. Xiang said he felt someone in the crowd push against him after he and his family had watched the ceremony.
Flag-raising ceremony at Tiananmen Square in Beijing /VCG Photo
According to surveillance videos, more than 10 suspects were involved in Xiang's case.
Police found that a gang of more than 20 members had worked together to steal various items from ceremony viewers near the square since May.
Each member had a specific role, such as brushing against the target in the crowd, stealing mobile phones or wallets, or transferring the stolen goods to another gang member.
After a month-long investigation, more than 100 plainclothes officers launched an operation and caught 24 suspects.