The children are seen to target ATM machines, where one will distract the user, while the other one steals the money. They also go for tourists who carelessly place their wallets in back packs on their back, or in their back pockets.
On the outskirts of Milan, the children live in terrible conditions in camps. Every day they can be noticed going into the city to steal and beg. Many are beaten by their minders if they do not return with money.
One girl openly admitted that without any risk of being punished, she is able to make around 300 euros from one successful robbery.
“In a one month period, a child can earn 12,000 Euros (around $20,000). Times that by 50 kids and you reach an astronomical amount of money” reveal Francesco Messina, who led a police operation to try to close the gypsy camps in 2008.
Film maker Liviu Tipurita discovered that many of the rescued boys simply returned to a life of crime, after the police operation, which jailed several members of the gang for up to 14 years for exploiting and enslaving the children. Camps that were closed just opened up again and went on as before.
Crime bosses, who live in fabulous villas in Romania, appear to be the organized power behind the child crime, which has reached international levels as far away as Australia and Canada. Luxurious mansions are built from the proceeds of the thieving operation.
"My fear is that without immediate help the Gypsy child thieves I've encountered in my journey will grow up into hardened criminals," states Liviu Tipurita, who has made films about Romania and child trafficking for many years, "And the cycle of abuse and exploitation will spiral out of control."
About Romanian Gypsy Children Trained To Thieve
Organized crime forces gypsy children to become thieves and beggars, on an international scale. For more information:
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