Tehran Police Publicly Parade 123 Theft Suspects
The Iranian Police publicly paraded a large group of alleged theft suspects early Sunday morning. In a set of photos published on the Islamic Republic of Iran News Agency (IRNA) website, a group of dozens of young men appears disheveled, some without shoes and the rest wearing slippers, most of them are wearing light clothing in near-freezing Tehran temperatures.
“Arrest of 123 thieves and muggers in Tehran: In the early moments of the morning of Sunday [December 15, 2013], Police Investigative Unit forces arrested 123 thieves, fences, and several leaders of theft gangs in Tehran,” read the description on the photo album published on the IRNA website today.
According to Tasnim News Agency, a news website close to the IRGC, during a press conference related to the arrests, Greater Tehran Police Commander General Hossein Sajedinia told reporters, “Following repeated public demands, and in keeping with the promise the Police had made to crack down on Tehran thieves and muggers, from the early morning hours of today, the police carried out extensive operations to arrest thieves, fences, and muggers who attempted theft in Tehran.”
“Beginning four months ago, the first steps to identify and perform intelligence work for identifying thieves, muggers, and fences in the city of Tehran were enforced,” said General Sajedinia. “During the operation, 123 buyers of stolen property, thieves, and muggers in the city of Tehran were arrested by the operational teams of the Greater Tehran Investigative Police,” he added.
General Sajedinia did not disclose whether the men had been informed of their charges and tried in a court of law. The arrests appear to have resulted from police surveillance and intelligence work, without indictment and fair judicial process in which the victims had access to lawyers and a chance to defend themselves.
The photographs of the suspects clearly show their faces and identifying marks, such as tattoos. However, in most photographs the police forces are wearing ski masks. In the case of at least one suspect, bruises are visible on the back of his bent neck. In the case of a tattooed suspect, his torso is naked.
The Greater Tehran Police Commander boasted about the immediate effect of today’s operations on Tehran theft statistics. “After enforcement of this operation, the number of reported thefts in the city of Tehran has dropped to once instance so far [today]; whereas before today, during these seven hours more than 10 cases of theft would have been reported,” he said.
Describing the operation carried out by the police force as “unprecedented,” Sajedinia added, “Among the detainees there is a band comprised of four citizens of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and Iraq, three of whom were arrested along with 30 middlemen and eight order-takers. The foreign citizens placed orders for their needed cell phone units to eight individuals, and the eight individuals processed the orders through their 30 middlemen,” he said.
The Greater Tehran Police Commander described the theft method used by the individuals as snatching and mugging. “The thieves used motorcycles to identify their victims and, in addition to their cell phones, stole their other valuable properties,” he said. “The arrested individuals threatened their victims with cold weapons when they resisted,” Sajedinia added.
This is not the first time the Iranian Police have taken detainees on a parade, allowing news reporters to photograph the detainees and to publish those photographs on the Internet. Raids leading to arrests of “thugs and hooligans” are happening routinely all around the country, and photographs of the subsequent parades are widely published by state media websites.