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French police nab first-class wig gang suspects

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By Alys Davies

BBC News

High-speed train in Le Chemin, France in 2007Image source, Getty Images

A suspected gang of thieves who allegedly stole items worth €300,000 (£260,000) from first-class passengers on French trains has been captured.

It is thought they stole luggage from passengers after sitting beside them on high-speed trains crossing the country.

One man, aged 57, is said to have posed as a woman, wearing a wig.

He and two other men, 47 and 40, have confessed to carrying out the thefts over five to six years, French media say.

They are believed to have stored stolen goods in a flat in the southern city of Marseille.

The alleged modus operandi was to steal items during station stops after the unsuspecting owners got off the train to stretch their legs or have a smoke.

Police were first alerted in April when a passenger reported the theft of a briefcase containing jewellery worth €50,000, local media say.

Four months later, police discovered a hoard of stolen goods in the Marseille flat.

Items included €130,000 in cash, a €70,000 watch, designer handbags, shoes, cameras and jewellery.

Local police believe more than 100 people had items stolen and are trying to track down passengers who were targeted on trains travelling between Paris, Geneva and Nice.

The men face up to seven years in prison if convicted of robbery.

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