Police Bust Major Arab Shoplifting Gang at Malcha Mall

A view of the Malcha Mall in Yerushalayim. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Police have busted a major shoplifting gang that stole tens of thousands of shekels worth of goods from the Malcha Mall in Yerushalayim. Police said Monday that they have arrested 26 members of the gang, all Arabs from eastern Yerushalayim neighborhoods, aged 13 through 58. Police said that the gang was caught after a months-long investigation, in which police working undercover observed and recorded acts of theft by gang members. The gang essentially stole anything that wasn’t nailed down – clothing, cosmetics, glasses, books, electronics, and other items, police said.

Police arrested the gang members and booked them on charges of theft, and began legal proceedings against them, which will result in criminal trials. Police said in a statement that most of them were released on their own recognizance, but ordered to stay away from the Malcha Mall for 30 days. Police said they would continue to act against individuals and groups whose thefts “can cause economic damage to businesses to the extent that they can cause a business to close down.”

Meanwhile, in a sweep of businesses in Ashdod, police arrested several illegal Arabs who were working in businesses in the city. In one case, an Arab from Shechem who was working in a business without a permit attempted to pretend that he was another individual, who did have a permit. The business owner verified his story, but upon further investigation, police discovered that the Arab was in Israel illegally. He was arrested, and police plan to charge his employer for violations of laws against hiring Palestinian Authority Arabs in Israel illegally. The employer could face a penalty of tens of thousands of shekels, if convicted.

Overnight Sunday, security officials said they arrested 13 wanted security suspects in other areas in Yehudah and Shomron. The suspects were wanted for participating in rioting and throwing stones and firebombs that endangered Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. Several of the suspects were also charged with belonging to Hamas. All were being questioned on their activities by security forces.