Two 20-year old men who recruited minors to rob jewelry stores, along with three others, have been taken into custody, the Daejeon Jungbu Police Station said Thursday.
According to police, the two men organized the robberies and the teenagers carried out the theft. Those involved in the delivery of the jewelry and money were taken into custody, along with 11 people booked without physical detention.
Two teenagers among the suspects are accused of breaking into a jewelry shop and stealing 67 items worth a combined 50 million won ($35,900) at 2 a.m. on June 23 in Jung-gu in Daejeon.
They also attempted to break into other jewelry shops located in Seo-gu and Yuseong-gu, both in Daejeon, on June 22 and 23, respectively. When the teenagers were apprehended, the leaders who initially organized the crime mobilized other minors and stole additional jewelry worth 30 million won on June 24.
The leaders, two 20-year-old men, planned the crimes on June 21 and recruited children believed to be 10 to 13 years old to carry out the plan, as Korean law does not apply criminal responsibilities on young offenders under 14. The leaders emphasized to the recruits that they would not be punished and gave them detailed instructions to carry out the theft.
Also, police said that the leaders told the minors to actively say they were under the age of 14 and to refuse to make any statements to avoid investigation. They lured the children by offering 10 percent of the profits or promising to buy them motorcycles.
The investigation was accelerated when a 14-year-old boy, who initially refused to testify, confessed after learning he would be subject to criminal law as his 14th birthday had already passed.
Police also booked four jewelry shop owners who bought merchandise from the gang on charges of acquiring stolen goods, recovering 26 items worth 15 million won.