MANILA, Philippine --Eleven suspected members of a pickpocket syndicate, including 10 youngsters, will spend their Holy Week behind bars for stealing around 300,000 Japanese yen from a Japanese businessman in Quezon City.
Except for 23-year-old Alfie Simillano, all the arrested suspects were minors aged between 7 and 14.
Parents of the suspects immediately went to the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Station 10 in Kamuning and claimed their children were innocent of the accusation against them.
?My son is just selling sampaguita to help me buy my medicines. He has nothing to do with it,? a mother told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in between sobs.
?My son is a good boy. He?s just been implicated in the crime,? she added.
Police would file robbery snatching charges against the suspects, said Police Officer 2 Venerando Trago.
He said the suspects were taken into custody following a complaint filed by Yasushi Sonoda Kado, a native of Hiyugo, Japan and resident of West Fairview, Quezon City.
?We believe those children were members of a syndicate whose modus is to get the attention of their would-be victims by mobbing them while pretending to be vendors selling different items,? Trago told the Inquirer.
Unfortunately, he said, some parents of street children were the ones ?encouraging? them to engage in criminal acts.
According to Trago, the victim, his Filipina wife Wilma and two other companions had just stepped out of the Zirkoh Comedy Bar in Timog Avenue, in the village of South Triangle at around 2:45 a.m. when more than 12 street kids suddenly mobbed them.
Wilma said some of the children begged for money from her husband while others asked them to buy sampaguita flowers.
?My husband got irked when some of the kids put their hands inside the side pockets of his pants,? Wilma narrated.
She said her husband only noticed that his wallet was missing when they boarded their vehicle.
Trago said the parking attendants of the comedy bar immediately went after the children and were able to recover the victim?s wallet and the 25, 000 Japanese yen that the young suspects allegedly left.
Wilma said the children took at least 275, 000 Japanese yen (around P117, 000) from her husband?s wallet.
Village watchmen and operatives of then QCPD Station 10 arrested the suspects from their houses in nearby P. Tuazon Street a few hours after.