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Five days after police officer Michael Fisher and his family were found killed - presumably after Fisher shot his wife and two children before turning the gun on himself - his Central District Police colleagues arrested two suspects in the investigation he had been conducting.

Fisher, his wife Hila, also a police officer, and their two children, aged three and six weeks, were found dead in their Hod Hasharon apartment Thursday morning.

Fisher headed the Central District's inquiry into a series of robberies targeting elderly victims around the nation.

This was Fisher's first and last assignment with the central investigations unit.

The two alleged swindlers would hunt for victims at bus stops, persuade them to get into their car, pickpocket them and drive off.

Fisher and his team were tracking and observing two ex-cons. One suspect, a 70-year-old man from Rishon Letzion, would strike up a conversation with another elderly person at a bus stop.

Then his accomplice, a 26-year-old man from Lod, would drive up in his car and offer the two - the suspect and his victim - a lift to wherever they were going.

Yesterday the detectives followed the suspects from the Rishon Letzion area to Afula.

"The whole way, on Road 40, they tried to persuade dozens of people to get into the car, until we stopped them in Migdal Haemek, after catching them red-handed," said central investigations unit head Yoav Kotler.

Robbing hitchhikers

After the suspects persuaded a target to get in the car, the older man would pull the victim's wallet out of his pocket, empty it and return it to its place without the victim noticing.

Only after the men dropped off the unsuspecting hitchhiker and disappeared would the victim realize his money had been stolen.

The police believe the suspects operated from Netivot and Ashkelon in the south, through Gedera, Yahud, Neve Monoson and Netanya in the center, to Afula, Migdal Haemek and other cities in the north.

"They would work from 6 A.M. into the night. Sometimes they'd succeed, other times the victims would get out of the car without being robbed," Kotler said.

The detectives following the suspects stopped to talk to people after the men dropped them off, told them they had fallen victim to a scam and took their testimony.

"Yesterday an elderly person, who had just received NIS 250 for cleaning work before entering the suspects' car, was left penniless. One of my detectives had to give him NIS 50 so he could get home," said Kotler.

The suspects will be brought to the Ramle Magistrate's Court this morning for a remand extension hearing.

"Michael was really happy when he was assigned this investigation. This is what preoccupied him more than anything," a police source said.