PUBLISHED: 22:31, 30 March 2012
UPDATED: 08:23, 31 March 2012
In their Romanian homeland, their relatives live like kings in five newly-built palaces.
But the scene which greeted officers who raided the British home of a suspected pickpocket gang this week was anything but regal.
Transport Police found six children sharing a bed, wads of cash, benefit forms, dirty mattresses on the floor and dozens of passports
Arrested: Two of the family have been detained after police swooped on a property in Gravesend
The dawn raid at the home of the
family took place weeks after the Mail revealed how their relatives
stole mobile phones and cash from drunken Britons as they slept on late
The gang of Roma gipsies also claimed to be homeless and sold the Big Issue magazine to get by.
Now police hope to claw back the proceeds of their crimes after arresting other members of the family on suspicion of money-laundering following the Mail investigation.
Officers arrested three women and a man on suspicion of making transfers of thousands of pounds to Romania.
They are suspected of sending cash transfers of up to £2,000 a week abroad to pay for their family’s lavish lifestyle.
Material goods: The garage at the property was stuffed with TVs, computers and monitors
Account for this: Police seized identity cards, passports and money in the raid
In contrast to their relatives’ five
gaudy mansions in their homeland, the arrests were made at a
three-bedroom terraced house in Kent.
Neighbours were woken by the screams of the gipsies as they were taken away in handcuffs.
Inside,police found six small children who shared a single bed in the living
room watching a Romanian music channel on a brand new 46in television,
next to an expensive wireless stereo unit.
They also found televisions in every room and more than 20 flat-screen TVs and computer monitors hidden in the garage.
Swift action: British Transport Police conducted
a raid in Gravesend, Kent, in response to a Daily Mail investigation
into pickpocket gangs
Upstairs, where the six adults shared
three bedrooms sleeping on dirty mattresses on the floor, detectives
recovered huge bundles of cash, dozens of passports and National
Insurance documents, together with NHS tax exemption certificates and
They also found Big Issue jackets and identification cards that the family were using to work the streets.
Outside the property, a sofa dumped in the front garden was surrounded by beer
cans, while in the back yard, old televisions and a bundle of firewood
were apparently gathered ready for a bonfire.
The arrests on Wednesday follow a two-year investigation by British
Transport Police into the pickpocketing gang.
Last month four other members of the family pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal.
The court heard that gang got rich by hopping on and off a train service
from Charing Cross in central London to Gravesend in Kent.
They systematically rushed through carriages snatching mobile phones, cash and bags from the arms of dozing passengers.
Over two years they claimed at least 185 victims, but police believe that
the true number is likely to be well over 500.
The stolen phones were
sold on in Romania to generate huge profits which they used to build a
16-bedroom villa, just a few streets away from where other extended
members of the family shared four similar blue-roofed palaces, all
decorated with the same distinctive Mercedes car emblem to advertise
When the Mail tracked down relatives of the clan who live in the small town of
Huedin, near Cluj in Transylvania, one was eager to boast about the
family’s riches, saying they had spent more than a million euros on one
He said: ‘Yes, we are very, very rich family. We work in England, Spain and France. We make a lot of money.’
The family are believed to also own two sprawling farms and had recently
bought another plot of land for development in the nearby village of Catatele
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