ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish police on Tuesday arrested two teenagers in Erbil for stealing women’s purses and deceiving people into giving them money.
The two boys, aged 14, sold products on the streets of Erbil (Hawler), which is illegal as local authorities banned child labor for anyone under the age of 18.
The teenagers manipulated people’s emotions by intentionally dropping onto crowded streets the fruits or other food products they were selling, acting dejected as bypassers felt pity and offered them money.
The products they were selling were cucumbers and pomegranates, the teenagers told Kurdistan 24.
“We were told by others, who were using the same trick, to do that to get a lot of money from people,” one of them told Kurdistan 24.
The two are also involved in stealing women’s purses using motorbikes, as caught on CCTV camera footage obtained by the Erbil police.
VIdeo evidence showed the two riding a motorcycle in Erbil late at night before they suddenly snatched a purse from two women walking down the streets.
“The purse contained 200,000 Iraqi dinars (US $167), a passport, and a residence card,” one of the teenagers said, stating they split the money between themselves to pay off some debts and give the rest to their parents as part of their daily revenue.
“That night, we went back home around 4:30 – 5:00 am in the morning,” he continued, stating their parents did not complain about their late return home.
Hogir Aziz, a spokesperson for the Erbil Police, noted the parents of the teenagers are partly to blame for “failing to adequately educate their children” and failing to hold them accountable for their whereabouts at such a young age.
“We urge people to contact local police and issue a complaint against cases of theft,” Aziz told Kurdistan 24.
“We also extend our call to parents to educate their children and monitor their actions during their formative years.”
Erbil police often search and detain beggars as well as children who work as peddlers on the streets, most of whom sell their products to drivers stuck at the traffic lights.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Additional reporting by Hemin Hussen)