TODAY | September 04, 2012
>>> back now at 7:42. this morning on rossen reports, a crime wave sweeping the country police cannot seem to stop. these crimes have a bit of a bizarre twist. today's national investigative correspondent jeff rossen here to explain this. good to see you.
>> good to see you. welcome back from tampa. we've heard of organized crime , you think of the mafia. now there's a new family in town, a crime family taking it to another level using grandparents, small children and even babies to rob stores blind. miss say they call themselves gypsies going to extremes. this morning you're about to see them in action with cameras rolling. this little girl looks lost asking the clerk for help but she's really helping to rob this jewelry store blind. her relative sneaking behind the counter to clean out the safe. at another store this family is using a baby to divert attention as a relative grabs the jewels.
>> the woman will carry the baby. it lowered your guard. who is going to think a woman walking into a store with a baby is going to commit a theft.
>> reporter: police say that's their mo. this rolling band of family thieves crisscrosses the country robbing at least 11 stores so far using their children as diversions.
>> they have been known to possibly pinch the baby to make it cry. that will divert attention.
>> they pinch the baby to make it cry.
>> they have been known to pinch the baby to make it cry.
>> when the clerk is diverted, the family strikes. they have been tracking them for years.
>> sort of a family business .
>> mothers, fathers, cousins, brothers, sisters. they are taught to do this from a very young age.
>> reporter: she say they are from romania, slipping into the u.s. with one goal, to steal. at this store in illinois, they walked in, looked at jewelry, and some even bought little trinkets.
>> people i thought were customers, turns out they were ripping me off.
>> back here with the safe.
>> and they are cleaning you out.
>> cleaning me out.
>> john says the family stole $10,000 worth of diamonds and got away clean. it's all a highly orchestrated plot in this houston heights , the family got away with half a million dollars. a few women and a baby are here shopping. innocent, right? then more family members show up, posing as customers, asking questions. the store owners are suddenly so busy, the family can make its big move. did you see that? look again, a relative sneaks behind the counter and back to the safe undetected, swiping the jewels. even her long skirt is part of the getaway plan.
>> once they have committed the crime, how do they smuggle the loot out.
>> they wear a booster weapon, tight this around their waist under their skirt.
>> shove it in here.
>> a pillow case so it doesn't go anywhere.
>> right here she's stuffing gold under her shirt police say in one of those booster aprons. it's so full she can barely waddle out.
>> i've seen it on 4-year-old children.
>> reporter: this one tiny, made for a 4-year-old girl, tiny hearts and all. they dash away disappearing with the loot. their crimes may be caught on camera but catching this traveling crime family , police say, is nearly impossible. they move constantly and live off the grid. left behind , the helpless victims who lose so much.
>> it just made me feel vulnerable. maybe it hardens you a little bit.
>> look, police are frustrated. these crime families keep getting away wit. federal authorities have been able to id a few of them and issued warrants for their arrest. next time they pop up on the border, police hope to nab them. even if they are caught, the punishment, matt, isn't severe at all. no real jail time.
>> how do you steal half a million dollars worth of jewelry and not have jail time.
>> it's caught on tape, too.
>> jeff rossen , thank you very