It might have been the haul of their lives, but for three female pickpockets working tram 15 in Lisbon on Tuesday it was one assault too many.
PSP were on to them, and watching – and as the women tried to make off in a taxi, with almost €37,000 worth of jewellery, dollars and Chinese currency – agents moved in to stop the vehicle making its ‘escape’.
The leader of the trio – a professional tram pickpocket known as “the Doutora” – remains in custody, while her two accomplices have been freed on the understanding they report in regularly to their local police station.
Explains Diário de Notícias, the Lisbon trams are notorious for being targeted by pickpockets.
The “crush of people in these vehicles, more and more of them tourists makes the pickpockets lives much easier”, says the paper. But this doesn’t always mean they get away with items of any value.
This particular ‘attack’ was different. The women settled on their victim, with one ‘watching’ to check no-one was looking too closely, another ‘accidentally bumping into the tourist’ while the third opened the woman’s backpack and took out a box, and a small bag.
“The box contained a pair of high quality gold earrings, valued at over €2,200 while the bag – again, top quality, worth €400 – held documents, bank cards, US dollars, Chinese yuan and ‘various pieces of gold and emeralds, the most valuable of which was a necklace with an emerald Budda, valued at €30,000”.
Said PSP agents, the female gang had scooped a haul of around €36,760.
Returning the booty to its stunned owner, police then set about getting the women to court.
The Doutora is suspected of a number of other crimes, adds DN, explaining that police have been cracking down on pickpockets this month, having arrested six others between May 17 and 22.
The moral of this story is ‘hold onto your valuables when in Lisbon’, particularly if you take an electric tram.