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  • This programme contains strong language and some adult content.

  • Summer 2013 - unsuspecting Brits are flying into a crimewave in Spain.

  • You're constantly like, where's my bag?

  • Is my zip open? ls my pocket open? Who's that standing behind me?

  • A new type of pickpocket, more brazen and cunning than ever before,

  • armed with an array of new criminal tricks, is targeting the unwary.

  • The reptile is a particularly sneaky pickpocket

  • and he will target you whilst you're having sex on the beach.

  • Professional dippers who know how to play the system.

  • You can quite happily go through the day stealing from people

  • and nothing will happen to you.

  • Next thing I know they're running off and that was me wallet gone.

  • They're absolute vermin. Scumbags. Absolute scumbags, they are.

  • We have exclusive access to the undercover police,

  • as they attempt to fight back.

  • And we're with a hardy group of expats...

  • Rickshaw taxi!

  • ..with their unique ways of trying to protect their fellow Brits.

  • I'll physically stop pickpockets from getting on a train

  • when they're about to put their hand in someone's bag.

  • You see it all the time and you try and stop it if you can stop it.

  • For Brits abroad,

  • Spain is the most likely place in the world to be dipped.

  • And there's a warning to Britain.

  • All of the pickpockets say that they want to go to London.

  • With London the number one destination for European tourists

  • and just a short flight away,

  • the UK's a tempting destination for the East European gangs.

  • Barcelona,

  • home of Gaudi and alfresco dining,

  • draws over 1.5 million British tourists every year,

  • many of whom are blissfully unaware that they are attracting

  • a certain type of criminal.

  • The pickpockets are targeting the British tourists

  • simply because they view them as having a great deal of money.

  • You don't have to be rich in our country

  • to be considered rich by these guys.

  • The Brits are the biggest foreign spenders in Spain, parting with

  • over 4.5 million euro first six months of this year alone.

  • Which makes them a target for some of the most unscrupulous

  • pickpocket gangs in Europe.

  • So London, yeah, that's got its dippers,

  • Paris has got plenty of pickpockets, but Barcelona at the moment,

  • they're in the Premier League, they're the dons of the trade.

  • The Montjuic Park area of Barcelona and a team of undercover

  • police officers are on the trail of two known pickpockets.

  • These are the two suspects in a queue of tourists.

  • This police officer, posing as a tourist, is waiting to pounce.

  • But he can only stop the men if he sees them attempt a dip.

  • When pickpockets work in pairs,

  • one will do the dip whilst the other one carries the goods away.

  • This ensures they don't get caught red-handed.

  • The undercover j the two suspects to an outdoor cafe.

  • A closer look reveals the man in purple to be Ley Karavan,

  • a known pickpocket from Romania.

  • Right now.

  • The suspects move off towards the Olympic Stadium.

  • Under Spanish law, convicted pickpockets can only receive

  • a prison sentence if they are found to have stolen 400 euros or more.

  • Any less, and the most the offenders will get is a cautionary fine.

  • From that position we have the view of the two.

  • Now, the nervous wait

  • for the two pickpockets to make a move on a tourist.

  • Ley and his accomplice move in.

  • A hand goes into a bag and they move away.

  • It's just what the police have been waiting for.

  • Ley and his friend are detained, whilst the police officer tries

  • to explain what has happened to two rather confused British tourists.

  • He... He opened the bag. He opened the bag.Yes. Goodness!

  • Where are you from? Er, well, we're from England,

  • but this fella came around and I thought this fella's attacking him,

  • there's some private disagreement.

  • I never even noticed these guys.

  • I... I... I lost sight... You know, I wasn't even looking at that.

  • Don't get excited, Peter, don't get excited.

  • The police search the men,

  • only for Ley to offer to expose himself to the cameras.

  • This time, the tourists escape without losing any money.

  • Good news for them, but not necessarily for the police.

  • All they can do now is bail the pickpockets to appear in court,

  • where the most punishment they can expect

  • is a statutory fine of between 100 and 300 euros.

  • Pickpocketing is a professional game.

  • Like any other business, it's about risk and return.

  • You steal 300, you get fined 100, so what?

  • In 2012, almost 2,000 British tourists were robbed in Barcelona.

  • Faced with such a challenge,

  • an unlikely group of expats have decided to take on the dippers.

  • Mates Danny, Mike and Pete relocated from Liverpool to Barcelona

  • four years ago and now work as rickshaw drivers on the seafront.

  • Welcome to our office.

  • Who doesn't like a nice, friendly pair of Scousers

  • who AREN'T out to rob them?!

  • Recently, the intrepid chauffeurs have taken it upon themselves

  • to try and protect the tourists against the dipper gangs.

  • They're absolute vermin.

  • I'm disgraced by it, like, because you're dealing with it every day.

  • just one warning, really.

  • There's lots of thieves operate on the beach, so just be careful.

  • Always look after your bags and keep them in front of you.All right.

  • Rather than behind. Hey, buddy.

  • I just thought I'd warn you that there are a lot of thieves

  • who are operating here and if this is even just slightly

  • out of sight, they could whip it really quick and escape on a bike.

  • Thank you. No problem.

  • It could be the first day of the holiday.

  • They get this little bit of time to go and enjoy themselves and there's

  • nothing worse than having that taken away from you right at the beginning.

  • Not surprisingly,

  • the dipper gangs don't appreciate the Scousers' campaign.

  • Wheeling rickshaws, we meet a lot of tourists who come through the city.

  • We were warning people off of the thieves,

  • as the thieves were stealing their things and the thieves came up to us

  • and threatened us directly and said, "This is my job.

  • "You do your job and we'll stay out of each other's way."

  • And that was a pretty direct threat

  • and it meant that there's a lot of us,

  • sometimes we are carrying knives, and things like that,

  • so don't mess around with us.

  • Hola! ALL:Hola!

  • The trio have now developed more subtle methods of warning tourists.

  • If I see a guy coming up, I'll just go...

  • RINGS BELL LOUDLV ..rickshaw taxi!

  • And then the person turns around, sees the guy going for the bag,

  • and at least I've warned them, in my own kind of way,

  • without going up to them and saying,

  • "You're going to get robbed," do you know?

  • I've seen these guys since I've been here.

  • God knows how many times I've seen them being arrested.

  • But there's four guys and they're looking down onto people

  • and they're sussing things out.

  • Danny has just spotted four men he believes to be

  • a gang of working pickpockets on the seafront.

  • We'll just follow them behind and, hopefully, we'll catch something.

  • They're actually going down to the beach now.

  • They're looking for people who they can pick off,

  • who have gone into the sea, left their bags unattended

  • and they've obviously spied something, so they're heading down,

  • so I think we should go over and see if we can catch something.

  • They're definitely up to something.

  • They're talking to people on the rocks.

  • They've got groups of people on the rocks.

  • To catch them in the act would be absolutely fantastic.

  • Go, "There you are. Show that to the police."

  • The gang realise they are being observed.

  • A man raises his hand in recognition.

  • But at least one group of tourists and their wallets have been saved.

  • In Barcelona, the pickpocket will use every means possible

  • to get at the valuables of unsuspecting British tourists.

  • Probably, my favourite scam in the history of scanning

  • is the midget-in-the-bag scam. Brilliant.

  • This took me by surprise, about the level of ingenuity

  • I'm seeing in the mind of the thieves.

  • This is Miquelon, whose name means "Big Miguel".

  • He's the key to the most ingenious theft scam ever.

  • Take it away, Miquelon.

  • The man-in-a bag scam involves a small person,

  • or a contortionist, who is able to climb inside a tourist travel bag.

  • This coach is packed full of tourists and their valuables,

  • which are safely in the hold.

  • Or so they think.

  • Miquelon is out the bag, surrounded by tourist treasure,

  • and his pilfering hands are hard at work.

  • He's back in the bag and no-one even knew he was there.

  • But this isn't the only cunning trick designed

  • to part tourists from their cash.

  • Coming up, the devious new tricks being played on British tourists.

  • The mute petition is a beautiful scam.

  • The consul official who tries to pick up the pieces...

  • Keep your wits about you and get a bag with a zip.

  • ..and the dipper gangs move down the coast to the seaside resorts.

  • They're perfect for the pickpockets.

  • ..where a different breed of dipper comes out play.

  • Over 13 million British tourists will visit Spain this year,

  • many blissfully unaware that

  • Eastern European pickpocket gangs are waiting to prey on them.

  • Hi guys. Having your bags on the beach, you know,

  • it's a really bad spot, this area, for pickpockets, for bag snatchers,

  • OK? So if you just be aware of it, don't put your bags behind you,

  • keep them close.Thank you very much.You're very welcome.

  • No worries, cheers. All the best, take care.

  • Basically, she's got my wallet, so, if we're going to lose it,

  • she's in trouble!

  • You'll meet at least one person a day who's been robbed, and

  • if it's a stag do, there'll be four or five of them have been robbed.

  • In one night.ln one night.

  • And they go, and all their mates go, "Ha-ha, he's been robbed."

  • Only to get robbed that same night.

  • I would say that the Brits are very unprepared for the type

  • of crime that they might see.

  • # Championes! #

  • They would never dream, I think, of how brazen

  • and how close into people's personal space the thieves are willing to go.

  • We were just talking to these Spanish lads,

  • we were pretty bevvied up, so we'd

  • had a few drinks, and they were just talking to us, and we were kind of

  • dancing and that, and the next thing I know, they're all running off.

  • That was me wallet gone.

  • Being an ex-crime prevention officer, I keep it in me sock.

  • Because...

  • Anything to stop the buggers.

  • With both British tourists and local police on their guard,

  • the pickpockets are becoming ever more inventive.

  • The pickpockets have to create new tricks,

  • because it's difficult for the pickpockets

  • if the police know their tricks.

  • PC Meri of the Mossos police has been alerted to

  • a gang of women outside Barcelona's Sagrada Familia

  • who are fleecing tourists with one of these new, devious techniques.

  • It's called the mute petition scam.

  • The mute petition is a beautiful scam.

  • It plays on our conscience

  • and allows the pickpocket to get in close whilst he does the dip.

  • The pretend mute will approach with the petition to raise

  • money for the bogus charity.

  • The victim, feeling sympathetic,

  • will come in close to sign the petition.

  • This will allow the pickpocket to work his magic underneath.

  • Outside the Sagrada Familia, cameras pick up a gang of women

  • with purple folders asking tourists to sign a petition.

  • With the victim suitably distracted by the petition board, you can see

  • the pickpockets helping themselves to the contents of this woman's bag.

  • A tug to open the zip...

  • ..and then in, to take the cash.

  • PC Meri and her team close in

  • on another gang of women at the location.

  • Here's two of the gang with clipboards

  • and petitions in their hands.

  • Yes, come on, because one of these girls is very... She knows me.

  • Two of the female pickpockets approach some tourists

  • whilst the other two keep a lookout.

  • There's a hand movement off-camera.

  • The team can't be sure, but a girl could have made a dip.

  • The call is made to stop and search them.

  • It seems that the girls have voices after all,

  • though they are in no hurry to confess.

  • The girls are Bosnian, and all under 25,

  • which is not unusually young for the gangs.

  • The people who are stealing are probably between 11

  • and early 30s, and often it's the third or fourth

  • generation of thief who's come to Barcelona to do that.

  • The girls are not found with any money on them

  • but they have been caught with fake petitions,

  • so they are cuffed and taken back to the station for further questioning.

  • This year there's been a 20% rise

  • in the number of British tourists losing passports in Barcelona.

  • Many due to the dipper gangs.

  • And if you're one<