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Cross-dressing teens charged with robbery, impersonation

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NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Five boys are accused of dressing as female prostitutes and robbing unsuspecting customers, police said Friday.

Dressed as women, the five approached men seeking prostitutes in Manhattan's West Village, a popular spot for the illicit sex trade. They then posed as undercover police as they stripped their victims of their wallets, credit cards, bank cards and cash, police said.

The youths, all aged 17 except for one 16-year-old, are charged with robbery and criminal impersonation of a police officer and will be charged as adults, police said.

Wearing wigs, earrings and makeup, the youths robbed five men, flashing phony police badges and handcuffing their victims, police said.

"You couldn't put this in a book. Nobody would believe it," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a weekly radio appearance.

The teens are suspected of committing other robberies as well, and police are asking other possible victims to come forward.

The youths were arrested Thursday by plainclothes police who recognized one of them from the victims' descriptions.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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