Chiswick Police Warn Of Increase In Phone Thefts

Recent spate of criminal activity targets phones and handbags


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Chiswick police have warned the public to be aware of a recent spate of criminal activity involving thieves who distract people by pretending to be lost and then steal their smartphones.

The ruse involves the thieves spotting people in restaurants or bars who leave their phones on the table where they are sitting.

They then pretend to be lost and pull out a large fold-out map, placing it on the table over the phone and asking for directions. When the map is lifted up, the phone has been concealed and they quickly make off before the owner discovers the loss.

A police spokesperson said this had happened at least half a dozen times in the past couple of weeks in pubs, coffee shops, and restaurants on Chiswick High Road.

In one case, in a popular pizza restaurant, a sharp-eyed waiter spotted the activity and chased the thief off the premises.

A police spokesperson said; “If this happens to someone we would like them to dial 999 so that we can investigate. People must be very careful not to leave their phones in open view on tables while they eat or drink in bars and restaurants. ”

There has also been an increase in handbag ‘dipping’ in local supermarkets and pubs. Thieves have been spotting women with handbags either lying open in supermarket trollies while they shop, or left open and placed on a floor while they meet friends for coffee or a drink. The criminals then quickly ‘dip’ their hands into the bags and make off with the woman’s purse.

A number of incidents of mobile phones being stolen while people are walking along the street making a call have also been reported in Chiswick. In one incident recently a person had their phone stolen while the thieves made off on a motorbike.

A police spokesman said; " There was an incident concerning a moped in Chiswick at around 2330 hours on January 24th where a pedestrian had their property stolen from their person.  This incident is being investigated by a Detective from our CID unit.  It is important that people are mindful of their surroundings when walking, it is recommended that residents avoid using Ipods or other MP3 players, or make loud and obvious phone calls while walking as this can draw the attention of thieves."



February 10, 2013