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  • We could steal practically anything because it was just unheard of, stealing, shoplifting abroad in Europe.

  • No one did it.

  • The money underneath the till was astronomical, grands, grands, grands.

  • We basically robbed nearly every fucking shop in Holland.

  • [The Thief on Interpol's Most Wanted List]

  • Petty crime had been going on since I was in nappies.

  • It was all do or dare. Everyone just stole.

  • You had to go in a shop; if you come out with nothing, you was probably out of the firm.

  • This is how I really started getting into what we called grafting, which is really shoplifting.

  • A grafter's someone who doesn't want to work nine to five, but isn't lazy.

  • He's an entrepreneurial thief.

  • He just doesn't want to pay for anything.

  • We had a motto, "To pay was to fail."

  • A lot of people would say, "I followed my older brother Colin."

  • But Colin was pretty much in your face, you know, just took what he wanted.

  • We tended to sneak around.

  • Eventually, all these sneak thieves, we all got our act together.

  • Like I said, we went out in twos and threes. We'd go to garden centers where tills were unattended.

  • But the funny thing, the first till I did in a garden center was a big wooden drawer.

  • And as I pulled it out, it was so old it fell to pieces. All the cash was on the fucking floor.

  • So eventually, Colin was going abroad.

  • We thought, "Why don't we go abroad?"

  • And everyone's, "Oh, where's that, where's this?"

  • "It's abroad."

  • "Where's abroad, what's abroad?"

  • We thought it was a town.

  • You know, didn't even think it was in Europe.

  • We obviously went to Amsterdam because even at 16, we were all smoking joints.

  • Me and my mate ended up in a wool shop.

  • And I've always said it, "What are two lads from England doing in a wool shop?"

  • Simply, underneath the till, got 500 guilders, which in them days, we was only 17, it's like £150.

  • The average wage was £20 in England.

  • Then we started buying little cheap cars, going out.

  • It was just basically going round.

  • You could do a thousand shops a day.

  • We went to Austria, then we went to Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg.

  • As a rule, we didn't bother with major cities, they were more clued up.

  • But the villages were great.

  • So easy, it was pathetic.

  • A few years into it, and we were really targeting jewelers for Rolexes.

  • You know, you're talking 30 Rolexes, even if you did them at scrap, that's £30,000.

  • We'd travel for three or four hours for further Rolex jobs.

  • And if they never happened, we'd just work our way back.

  • And that would be just ad hoc.

  • But we'd go in jewelers again.

  • We'd just see a window, we'd say, "Right, there's a nice window, full of gold."

  • "Gold?" "Gold, yeah," we'd all say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah."

  • It become actually an art.

  • When someone comes in a shop and disappears out of eyesight, everything is safe, it's locked up.

  • They don't know we've got the keys.

  • We looked all over the place, and the keys were next door in a shop.

  • And they've got their wares in a cabinet with exactly the same key, in the jewelry shop.

  • So we used to collect all these keys.

  • We'd get into jewelers sometimes where you'd open the safe, and there'd just be trays and trays and trays and trays of rings.

  • That's how we were living. We were living for the moment.

  • None of us expected to reach old age, I'm afraid.

  • It was funny because we had Spud, who was smaller than me.

  • And then we had, John McKee, his name was it. He was a really big guy and he used to cover us all the time.

  • But John McKee'd have six Heinekens in the car before he went out.

  • He was a heroin taker.

  • Once you're into heroin

  • We found out they were only taking little bits so they could get through the day.

  • So they weren't out their heads, they knew what they were doing.

  • So John McKee was a character.

  • Colin was a live wire.

  • He just wanted to rob from every single shop he went in.

  • We eventuallySomeone told me, they said, “You know the police are watching you?”

  • And we thought nothing of it at the time because we could easily lose the police, you know, with all the canals in Amsterdam.

  • We had no fear of the police at all.

  • I first got arrested in a place called Leiden, which is about 30 kilometers out of Amsterdam.

  • That was on a baker's robbery, which I'm not proud to say, but you snatch cash outside the banks.

  • About three or four days, it's the usual, “It wasn't me. You've got the wrong man,” and they've had to let me go.

  • And they said, “Yeah, Interpol want a word with you.”

  • And I'd thought nothing of it.

  • I ordered a taxi.

  • I could feel someone following me.

  • Just as you're coming into Amsterdam, I said, “Taxi driver, that'll do me.”

  • And I just fucking ran, because I knew I'd been followed from Leiden.

  • And that night, we're in a club.

  • It was called the ROXY.

  • Everyone's on ecstasy at this time, it was about 1987.

  • “I don't think we should be in the clubs tonight, lads,”

  • So we've gone out of the club, jumped in a taxi, drove past them.

  • We were giving it... so we're giving it that then.

  • That's when we first got the inkling that it was Interpol and not the police.

  • After 15, 20 years of hearing, "English, English, English, English," they put a dossier together on us.

  • About 1987, I got stopped in Holland.

  • "We've been following you. We've been—"

  • I said, "I know you've been following us, but you're not very good at it."

  • But eventually they put about five or six of us in jail.

  • And it wasn't the exposure, it was just the time was up.

  • Security had moved on, cameras were starting to appear in the shops, CCTV's on the streets.

  • And this is the kind where you think the days are numbered.

  • In the end, I got just 18 months, which even I thought was ridiculous. I thought I was looking at five years.

  • But the jewelers we never got done for.

We could steal practically anything because it was just unheard of, stealing, shoplifting abroad in Europe.

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How I Ended up on Interpol’s Most Wanted List | Fakes, Frauds & Scammers

  • 1978 89
    Jeff Chiao posted on 2021/11/02
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