The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has arrested eight Africans for pick-pocketing, especially in crowded areas.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said in a statement that a special security team was formed to nab the culprits after the CID received complaints of repeated cases of personal valuables being stolen by pick-pockets.

A thorough investigation and search followed, which led to the arrest of a number of suspects and recovery of valuable items from them, the MoI said. The suspects were referred to the authorities concerned to complete the procedures and take further action.

The MoI has called upon the public to take care of their belongings, especially in crowded areas, such as markets and public transport stations, and co-operate with security agencies if such thefts occur or if they witness any such case.

Recently, a number of money exchange houses in Doha advised clients to be extra cautious while visiting their premises in order to avoid falling prey to pick-pockets operating in their vicinity. In particular, such cases saw a spike during weekends, when a large number of people headed to exchanges to remit money or conduct other transactions, Gulf Times reported.

Sources said most of the complaints came from Al Ghanim – which houses a number of exchanges - while another area of concern was the Najma-Mansoura-Bin Dirham belt. These areas generally remained crowded, especially on weekends.

One exchange had put up a board warning customers to be more careful during visits, it was found. "We are aware of this alarming trend and have asked clients to exercise due caution," said a staff member at an exchange.

The cases of pick-pocketing came to light even as many residents complained of a related trend - that of fraudsters trying to rob people after spitting on them along Doha's streets. Such incidents have been reported from a number of areas in the city, including the vicinity of Souq Waqif, Al Hilal and others.

Residents also started sharing their personal experiences on social media, expressing concern over the growing trend and calling for swift and stringent action against the culprits.

In one of the cases, an expatriate was robbed of QR7,500 by a man who spat on him before stealing his wallet containing the money near Souq Waqif recently. A similar attempt was made on another resident in Hilal while he was walking towards his car after withdrawing money from an ATM. His alertness saved him and the fraudster’s bid was foiled.

Earlier, a person reportedly lost QR22,500 after a man spat on him and then offered to wipe off the spittle, all the while apologising for the act. The victim, a businessman, was returning from an exchange house when the incident occurred.

In yet another case, as reported in Gulf Times, a resident said he was robbed by a person in the Fereej Abdel Aziz area. The incident occurred soon after he withdrew money from an ATM there and was walking in the direction of the Jaidah flyover.

Recollecting his experience, another expatriate said he lost his wallet containing nearly QR1,000 at a busy Najma location a few months ago. The modus operandi was similar – person spat on him and then started apologising and wiping the spit. After a while, the victim realised he had been robbed.