Boy, 5, becomes Britain's youngest mugger

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The Independent Online

A five-year-old boy in South Yorkshire has become Britain's youngest known mugger.

A five-year-old boy in South Yorkshire has become Britain's youngest known mugger.

The boy was detained by police on Sunday after trying to steal the handbag of an elderly woman, thought to be in her seventies, but he was not charged because he is too young. Instead, he and his nine-year-old accomplice were taken home by police and given a talking to in front of their parents.

The two boys were caught on West Road, Mexborough, by a passer-by, who telephoned South Yorkshire police on his mobile phone. The victim was not hurt.

Since both children are aged below 10, the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales, they were not arrested or charged. But the police said that local social services officials have been informed. "We felt quite strongly we had a duty to inform social services about their behaviour," a police spokesman said. "At the age of five, it must be a new record."

Another officer added: "They were taken home and spoken to in front of their parents, where they were strongly advised regarding their conduct."

A wave of organised crime masterminded by a group of men using an army of child pickpockets, mostly girls, has hit the Underground in London.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Cracknell, of the British Transport Police's London Underground Area, said the men were using children, some as young as 10, to rob commuters of thousands of pounds. The children work in groups of four or five, each supervised by one man, police said.

Ms Cracknell said that the children were offending as far afield as Birmingham, and on trains into Euston and Paddington, and out to Reading, where they targeted shoppers.

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