A warning. Two young lads (about 16 and 17) ran out of the George pub in Tower Bridge Road on Wednesday night (22nd) snatching a woman's bag en route.
The blond lad was quite brazen and, I suspect. Apparently they showed ID to drink in the pub, but the landlord had his suspicions about them. It was just unfortunate that he was not close when they struck. Both were slim and the shorter, younger one had dark close cropped hair. The blond lad was about 5' 9'' with slightly longer hair. Both wore 'street'clothing. I saw they had a pint of lager before switching to JD and coke. They played pool.
Whilst walking along the south bank last weekend we came across some children (4) of around 9 or 10 who where stealing peoples phones and bags by distracting them asking for directions or getting them to look at some papers. The police were called and this small gang were cuaght but because of their age probably not held for long. They were of Eastern european appearance and new the area well. According to the police they work this area all the time possibly hitting on tourists but just to let you know.
Jennifer were they on bikes? at St Thomas's hospital a few months back - a gang of similar looking children rode into the hospital then jumped off - ran into Smiths and pinched some books...there was a man with them with a moustache about 4o ish , he was also on a bike.
Just thought I would pass on a couple of tips from a bar managers point of view with regards to bag snatching. Whilst we have been fortunate at the Leather Exchange (one bag in three years) this problem is on the increase and there are lots of ways you can protect yourself. Some of them probably seem really obvious but its always worth a reminder.
Most pubs do not have safe storage for bags etc if you are going out straight from work you may be safer leaving stuff there.
Push your bag under your table rather than out beside the table
Try and leave anything really valuable at home unless you are wearing it
Only take out any credit/debit cards you are likely to use
If posssible don't take out a big bunch of keys only the ones you need to get in , tuck them in a safe pocket.
Take your bag with you to the bar and toilet ; if you are relying on friends to watch it a minutes distraction is all it takes and friendships will be stretched.
If you know you are going to have a big night out with a fair bit to drink try not to take a bag at all most people have jeans or combats with lots of safe pockets
Clearly you shouldn't have to plan to this degree just to have a couple of beers but having both witnessed the distress bag theft causes and having been on the receiving end in another pub I try to leave anything I don't want to live without at home and I empty everything with my address on it out of my bag if I have to carry any keys with me.
It's a pretty sad state of affairs but seems to be getting worse.
We train the staff to be as vigilant as possible but some of the
professional bag snatchers are very quick and very clever.
Finally always report the theft to the local police as they can make all the bars in the area aware of what's going on through pubwatch schemes and it does help.
Just a note on the bag snatches. A few years ago - about 15 or so - a friend of mine was have a drink in a wine bar in the Fleet Street area. She put her bag under the table/chair and kept her foot touching it occasionally to make sure it was still there. Leaving she picked up her bag and outside looked at it in the light. It had been switched - it was an empty bag - so she had no idea how long ago it had been done. They think of everything. I always used to wrap the handle/strap round my ankle - which was OK as long as I remembered when I stood up!
Having worked in bars on the cut and been with a friedn when her bag was stolen from meson don fellipe i can tell you that bag theft is quite common in the area.
My recommendation is to keep whatever you can in your pockets (but not in a coat over your chair). Attach your bag to a clip if available. If it isn't then put the feet of your chair or table throught the bag handle.
Daytime street wardens were introduced into Clapham Junction/Northcote Road about a year ago. Like Bankside the area was suffering bag snatching and shoplifting. Some committed by regular and identifiable groups like above.
Apparantly call outs to the police dropped by 60% in the first month alone, as the wardens were able to spot regulars and keep an eye on them. Ok to some extent this activity was displaced, but overall it made life harder for them.
Street crime tends to be very concentrated in a few key hubs around transport interchanges and shopping areas, as that is where the richest pickings are. I think there is growing acceptance that some form of regular uniformed presence works. Plus it saves a lot of police time.
Without knowing the figures it is likely that Bankside/Waterloo crime figures are rising to Westminister levels. Crime tends to be highest in areas where people congregate, not where people live. It is important that this is considered at an early stage, as there is an equal danger that any firm and organised approach used by Westminster (and they do have real problems) will displace some of the criminal activity south of the river.
Trouble is that both Lambeth and Southwark have areas (Brixton, Peckham, Camberwell) where there is real deprivation and quite a lot of criminal activity, so help for the South Bank has to compete with the need to keep a lid on, say, drug related crime, furhter south.
There is probably money around to fund something like wardens. But it is probably a case of residents and businesses making sure their local Councillors are aware of concerns.
A new licensing act comes into force in a couple of years time, which might (not sure if anyone can predict the impact) have a huge effect on city centre areas. (24 hour licensing ....ho hum). It would be really interesting to hear whether Lambeth or Southwark have worked out a coordinated approach to cover the various issues involved in the growth of the leisure industry along the river and the attendent problems (Noise, crime, transport etc.)
The activity around David Blaine gave everyone a foretaste of what might happen if Southbank or Bankside gained a couple of Megabars and turned into youth central.
Sorry about the fact that I seem to become so earnest these days. Think its the weather. Need to get out more!