(Sabah Newspaper, 25 April 2013)
Masked and unmasked.
Taxi driver Erhan B. (34) filed a complaint with the
Halkali, Istanbul, police on 25 February, saying that
he was mugged by four people who got into his cab
as customers. In his statement, Erhan B., who was
robbed of his cellphone and 800 TL, said that the
people he picked up spoke with a strange accent and
that their lips did not move in concert with their speech.
Police received similar complaints and began an
investigation into the 'silicon face' method. They
checked on professional firms that prepare specially-
made masks made of 'wax' or 'silicon' material in
a number of countries, in particular America and England.
The police then examined orders made over the internet
from Turkey for silicon masks.
Two suspects were identified and put under surveillance.
Just at the same time, police teams received an interesting
complaint from A.T. (29) who said that on 28 February
three individuals beat himand stole masks that he had had
made overseas. A.T., who sells animation and some concept
materials over the internet, said in his statement that "I
purchased five silicon and wax masks that are just like
human faces from a foreign internet site and put them up
for sale on the internet. One E.T. (!) got in touch with me,
said he wanted to buy them and so we agreed to a price
of 40,000 TL."
"At the Istanbul bus depot they threatened and beat me
in their car, taking the masks, 4,000 TL and my cellphone
from me. I only saved myself by jumping out of the
moving vehicle." Police got the car's plate number from
A.T. and determined the gang's address. Four suspects
who had assumed different appearances in order not to
leave any trace of themselves, by purchasing the masks
from an overseas internet site for between 4,000 and
12,000 TL each, were tracked in connection with muggings,
robberies and lootings.
Police captured the suspects, whose use of the masks, which
are seen in Hollywood films, was a first for Turkey. The
masks seized from the suspects cannot be distinguished from
real faces and they were sent to the police criminal laboratory.
E.T. (28),F.S. (32), G.M. (30) and E.K. (26) denied any
criminal activity but the fingerprints and DNA samples
on the masks matched their own. The suspects were sent