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Yet another form of theft on buses
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Posts: 189
Joined: Jan 2010
Post: #1
18-04-2010 11:08 PM

I was nearly the victim of a (to me) new and quite ingenious form of pickpocketing yesterday evening. I was waiting to get off the bus in Camberwell. A man with what seemed to be a nearly empty but large white plastic bag in his arms came and stood very close to me, although the bus wasn't crowded, with the plastic bag held between us. The plastic bag was touching me and covered up my handbag, which was one of those messenger bags that go over your shoulder and hang close in front of you, so are usually fairly secure. I moved away because he was so close, and felt a tugging at my bag as though it was caught on something. When I looked, my handbag zipper was open, though I'm sure it was closed when I stood up a minute earlier. The man at once turned his back and looked studiously in the other direction, even when I said to my friend quite audibly, 'I think he was trying to steal my purse'. He didn't get off the bus at that stop although he was apparently waiting to get off.

Didn't quite have the assurance to confront him as it happened quite quickly and I wasn't absolutely 100 per cent sure what was going on, but I was as sure as I could be.

Yet another thing to look out for! The man was young, tall and slim with shaved hair, and I think African.

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Posts: 76
Joined: Dec 2003
Post: #2
18-04-2010 11:44 PM

Nothing new under the sun, I'm afraid. I came across something similar in Madrid. It involves three women begging aggressively. Two distract attention, while the third goes for the handbag. The technique is to throw a garment such as a cardigan over the arm and handbag of the target so she can't see what is going on, while making a lot of noise and commotion, claiming to be hungry etc, and then open the handbag and tip the contents into a plastic bag.

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Posts: 1,504
Joined: Jan 2008
Post: #3
19-04-2010 10:48 AM

Firstly sorry to hear of your loss. I hope you did not lose too much in this theft.

Have you reported this to the police and bus company so they can get an image of him from the CCTV?

My sister had her purse nicked in a similar, up close and personal manner a few years back.
I hope you are not too affected by this. Lets hope the next back he sticks his hand in has broken glass or needles in it! Angry

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Posts: 189
Joined: Jan 2010
Post: #4
19-04-2010 05:49 PM

Thanks, Snazy. Keeping broken glass in one's handbag just in case of future incidents is a creative idea, but could have it's downside...

I was lucky because I moved away before this guy had actually removed anything from my bag, but the fact that nothing was missing reinforced my reluctance to confront him, although I'm pretty sure his hand was inside my bag when I moved. From what David says, this 'cover up the handbag and then delve inside it' is a common trick and if I'd known that before, I would have made more fuss.

Good idea about CCTV, I'll see if it's not too late.

Must remember to beware of cardigans as well in future. Ho hum.

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Posts: 283
Joined: Feb 2006
Post: #5
19-04-2010 08:57 PM

Another one that I've seen in Rome (and watched the woman get arrested) is a woman clutching a child and asking for help. She uses her hand to emphasise the begging. The victim watches that hand since the other one is obviously holding the baby.

Nope, the baby is in a sling contraption and the hand that looks like it's holding it up is fake. The woman's real hand is free underneath it and may now be in the unsuspecting tourist's handbag relieving them of their Euros.

Thanks for pointing this version out though - I'll keep my bags close.

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Posts: 76
Joined: Dec 2003
Post: #6
19-04-2010 09:55 PM

The technique seems to be more to up end the handbag into the carrier bag rather than rummage inside, which is more obvious. Something of value may fall out or it may not.

From my one personal experience, and what I have heard, pickpockets work in teams, with some team members distracting attention while others get on with the job - and of course the other team members may come to the aid of the person doing the lifting if things go wrong.

We didn't lose anything either, I'm pleased to say, though it was quite a determined and 'physical' attempt.

It's a pity that these traditional craft skills can't be put to better use - surely they could find a lucrative role in some unreconstructed corner of the investment 'industry'?

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Posts: 203
Joined: Feb 2008
Post: #7
20-04-2010 09:58 AM

Hang on! This happened to me too on the 122 in Lewisham about a year or so ago. He got my purse too. Sad

It was quite a crowded bus and this guy kept bumping me and I turned around and said: Listen mate, you're not getting on any faster. Then I got on the bus and he suddenly decided not to get on which I thought was funny and then I noticed that my bag was open and my purse gone so I ran off the bus and chased after him but he got away.

Despite it being on the bus CCTV, the police never found the person but it matches the description given in the first post so watch out!

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Posts: 5
Joined: May 2008
Post: #8
20-04-2010 12:30 PM

Hang on! This happened to me too on the 122 in Lewisham about a year or so ago. He got my purse too.

The exact same thing was tried with my Mum getting on the 122 in Lewisham about 18 months - 2 years ago, but luckily she felt something pulling on her bag and turned around quickly before the thieving scumbag had grabbed her purse. He had his hand through a strategically cut hole in the bag he was holding to disgiuse what he was doing.

He got the verbal he deserved and jumped of the bus. Sounds like it might be the same bloke doing the rounds.


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Posts: 729
Joined: Oct 2007
Post: #9
20-04-2010 06:46 PM

And ditto on a rammed solid P4 on the evening rush out of Brixton about two years ago. Police completely hopeless and CCTV apparently didn't show anything - I personally don't believe they even bothered to look.

I always make a point of zipping up my bag and keeping a firm hold on it when it's crowded. Possible other deterrent is to have a very large bag (fashionable these days) and fill it full of stuff, so no one - least of all you - can find your wallet in it!

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Posts: 76
Joined: Dec 2003
Post: #10
27-04-2010 10:05 AM

Police have just done someone for 21 offences of theft on buses.

They do sometimes catch criminals, and, as their intelligence led approach requires the build up of a picture, it is always desirable that people report crime.

Anyway, one up to the boys in blue!

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Ex FH Pat

Posts: 112
Joined: Oct 2009
Post: #11
28-04-2010 11:14 AM

another one is to carry a duff wallet with about 5 = 10 in and loads of rubbish cards and have this one as the one that may be on show to all, that way, if they get it, they dont get to much

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Posts: 1,538
Joined: Apr 2006
Post: #12
28-04-2010 11:50 AM

I have in the past used a wallet with a cord attached to the inside pocket on my suit. That way if someone does lift it they are still attached to me. I started doing this after someone tried to steal my fathers phone in Borough Market without realising that it was attached to him by a cord. The guy snached the phone from my fathers belt, legged it and then looked very suprised when it was snached from his fingers by the cord attached to my fathers belt.Laugh

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Posts: 269
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #13
28-04-2010 12:16 PM

I recognise him. I've a good memory for faces and I remember seeing him at the P4 bus stop in Ladywell, and vaguely feeling uneasy - probably because he was also standing a bit too close on the bus. Anyway, it's a relief he's been caught.

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