TEHRAN — Talk about a life in crime. Iranian police recently busted — or re-busted — a thieving gang consisting mostly of middle-aged and older men who have been in and out of prison since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The gang's head is believed to be around 63 years old, and is known to law enforcement as "Iran's father of muggings" and a "pioneer" in a field to which he had devoted himself since at least 1980, the newspaper Shargh reported on May 4.
The arrests came after a rise in complaints over thefts and violent muggings of women around banks and shops near the Grand Bazaar in central Tehran, which were found to coincide with the release of some of the gang's members from prison.
One of their recent robberies targeted a woman who had bought two kilograms of gold (a common form of saving in Iran) from a shop and then took a taxi to a city bus terminal. A motorbike told the taxi driver he had a flat tire, and when he pulled over to the side of the road, several men forced the woman to hand over her belongings, gold included.
Police say the suspects were "precisely" identified once several similar complaints were cross-checked. The men had criminal records, were aged in their 40s and 50s and led by an older man named as Eshq'ali Sh.
Indeed, it was 1999, when Eshq'ali, who was thought to be about 47 years old at the time, was described by another suspect as a "pioneer" of muggings with "particular" skill in identifying prime victims. Shargh"s report suggested that some accomplices were executed in earlier decades, but did not explain how Eshq'ali had, so far, escaped such a fate. Police were unsure about the scale of his earnings, but suspected it was a fortune.