Hamidovic—know that name? He’s an actual, living, pickpocket kingpin. Reality.
Hamidovic, arrested in late 2010, ran a network of hundreds, possibly thousands, of child pickpockets across Europe. He rounded up the underage kids, mostly Eastern European girls, and forced them to steal.
Hamidovic Pickpocket Gang
Forced! They were threatened with violence (including rape and cigarette burns) if they failed to bring in 300-1,000 euros each day. Not angels to begin with and already used to a rough life, once under Hamidovic’s leadership their treatment was brutal.
The children are all under 13, or so they claim—too young to be held by police. Their actual ages are unknown. When arrested, the young thieves all have the same answers. Name? Hamidovic. Age? 12. Police have no choice but to release them.
300-1,000 euros each day. That explains the persistence and brazenness of the child pickpockets in Paris we observed and spoke with a few months ago. And it explains the 1.3 million euros Hamidovic is said to have netted in just one year. Not to mention his fancy houses, Porsche, and six-figure casino visits. And perhaps it explains why Hamidovic, living the luxe life, reported no income. (“Occupation: organized crime boss.”)
Hamidovic and his underthugs in the Hamidovic pickpocket network trained their little criminals to target Asians when possible, because Hamidovic believed Asians carried more cash and were easy victims. But anyone is fair game in the steal business. In the Paris Metro, we watch clusters of 8-12 child pickpockets fan out and flit from target to target, fast, fleet, unapologetic when noticed.
Fehim Hamidovic, from former Yugoslavia, was 58 when he was arrested along with his wife and two sons. He was 60 when sentenced to seven years in prison. Believing that the Hamidovic pickpocket network was responsible for two-thirds or more of thefts on the country’s Metro, French authorities breathed a sigh of relief. They had dismantled the network. They’d taken down the boss.
“This ‘beast’ will soon have a new head,” said The Mysterious Monsieur F., our official source in Paris, when Hamidovic was finally caught. “The arrest of the chief of the Hamidovic pickpocket network did not change anything, they are always there. And they make a carnage!”
“Nobody sees these ‘clouds’ of pickpockets, even though they are not especially discreet. The Hamidovic ‘work’ very well but they are not wary. It is not a problem—there is no risk of prison for them.”
So—the head of the pickpocket gang, this modern-day Fagin, is finally off the streets. Yet, the Hamidovic pickpocket network is alive and well.
A brother, a sister, a nephew, and others have stepped in to perpetuate the gang that authorities call a well-oiled machine and “a powerful entity, perennial, professional”, and “vast network of human trafficking,” “an underground economy, with earnings and protection.” As well as Paris, the vast network operated throughout France, in Belgium, Spain, and Italy.
The Hamidovic pickpocket network grabs headlines, to the exclusion of their also-numerous competitors. The Mysterious Monsieur F. laments:
“The French news reports show only the Hamidovic, causing many people to think that all France’s pickpockets are girls of 12 or 14 years. When announcements are made in the subway stations, the travelers look only for the Hamidovic!
“France’s pickpocket situation is under-estimated. I am ashamed for my country when visitors become victims as of their first steps in France. The Hamidovic can become violent. If a person shouts “pickpocket!” they spit. It is dangerous because many claim to have pneumonia.
“The judgment of Fehim Hamidovic did not change the situation of the thefts in the subway. They are still numerous and sometimes violent.”
In 2013, the Hamidovic pickpocket network opened a branch in the South of France run by Goran Hamidovic, son of the imprisoned Fehim Hamidovic. Pickpocket reports went from 80 per month to 580. Soon Goran Hamidovic, his wife, son, and daughter-in-law were arrested.
Do you think there is any less pickpocketing in France today? In January 2015, The Mysterious Monsieur F. writes “There are still many pickpocketing…”
The Hamidovic pickpocket gang lives on!