POLICE arrested nine suspected pickpockets from Metro Manila who were allegedly responsible for filching the valuables of revelers during the Sinulog parade last Sunday, January 17.

They were led to the group by one suspect, whom civilians caught after he allegedly stole a young woman’s high-end cellphone.

Operatives of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Theft and Robbery Section (TRS) caught eight of the nine suspects inside two rooms in an inn in Cebu City’s North Reclamation Area.

Senior Inspector Rolito Supatan, TRS chief, identified the suspects as Guillermo Ocampo Diaz, Arvin Jan Ballesteros, Renz Lester Boncalan, Cindy Lozada Mercado, Carla Santos Mendoza, May Cruz Vilasco, Adrian Lopez, Cris Ramos Fernandez, and Charizze Cruz Adriano.

They are from Manila, Taguig City, Makati City and Pasay City, but reportedly arrived in Cebu last January 14, three days before the Sinulog parade.

“It is possible they had victims during the Feast of the Black Nazarene,” said Supatan in Cebuano.

The group’s leader, a certain George, evaded the police. Supatan said that the group, possibly members of a syndicate, may have been planning to continue their operations during the 51st International Eucharistic Congress had they not been caught.

Mendoza, one of those caught, told reporters that they had victims, but that the items found in their rooms were things they had found in the streets.

Humihingi lang po kami ng pasensiya at di na namin uulitin (We are asking for understanding and we will not do it again),” she said.

The suspects also asked for forgiveness from Senior Supt. Benjamin Santos Jr., CCPO officer-in-charge.

Seized from their possession were assorted wallets, ATM cards, identification cards, students’ subject load cards, passenger ship receipts, money transfer firm receipts and pictures, including that of Cebuana actress Kim Chiu.

Chief Inspector David Señor, CCPO’s Police Community Relations chief, said that Diaz had been caught by the friends of 21-year-old victim, Carly (real name withheld upon request), whose iPhone 6 worth P30,000 Diaz had allegedly grabbed and passed on to his companions.

Carly’s friends brought Diaz to Police Station 2, which later turned him over to TRS.

Supatan said that Diaz cooperated with the police during an interview and led them to the inn.

One of the three victims who showed up at the TRS office identified one of the suspects as the one who stole his wallet that contained P20,000.

Complaints for theft, a violation under the Revised Penal Code, will be filed against the suspects today, January 20.