Heyday for Thieves as People Switch to Cash

Moscow has been hit by a crime wave as an increasing number of Russians are withdrawing their savings and carrying large amounts of cash around, making them easy prey for thieves, state television reported.

City police on Tuesday alone registered four separate thefts from car drivers of amounts ranging from 300,000 rubles ($10,900) to 3 million rubles ($109,000), state-run Vesti-24 said in a report posted on its web site.

"Police have noted that since the start of the crisis, such crimes have become more common,'' Vesti-24 reported. "This is because people are carrying large amounts of cash. Criminals are taking advantage of this.''

Four people attacked the driver of a Jeep Grand Cherokee that had stopped at a traffic light at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday on Aviamotornaya Ulitsa in southeastern Moscow, injuring him with a hammer and baseball bats before taking a bag containing 300,000 rubles, police said.

At about the same time, three men grabbed a bag with 3 million rubles in it from a 32-year-old sitting in a car on Denisovsky Pereulok, near Baumanskaya metro station in central Moscow, before making off in a getaway car, according to police.

On Tuesday evening, three men stopped a car on Slavyansky Bulvar in central Moscow and snatched a bag containing 500,000 rubles from the 45-year-old driver.

Bloomberg, MT