I'd always wondered how the guy who sold cheap travel books from a white van on Concert Hall Approach near Waterloo could make any money. Now all is revealed...
From The Evening Standard (20 January) and Independent (21 January) - both apparently from the same Met press release
"With books piled on makeshift tables and a stream of scruffy suppliers, the enterprise did not appear to be the most sophisticated. But behind the bookstall's amateur facade lay a sophisticated shoplifting racket, raising tens of thousands of pounds a week.
Ronald Jordan, 62, described as a modern-day Fagin, employed a 15-strong team of drug dealers and the homeless to steal thousands of books to order at high street stores across London and the South-east. His workers each stole up to 50 books a day, emptying entire shelves into bin bags. They were paid £1 for each book.
About 160 books, which were mostly travel guides or for children, were sold daily for £10 each at Jordan's two stalls - in Dominion Street in the City and under the arches near Waterloo station.
The operation was well known to retailers and publishers across the capital, including Books Etc, Borders, Lonely Planet and Penguin. Some bookshops refused to stock certain books because they knew they would be stolen within an hour.
Jordan, from Finchley, north London, was found guilty of conspiracy to steal and handling stolen goods at a hearing last week. Details were released by police yesterday. He will be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court next month. Three of his accomplices were also found guilty while a fourth person was cleared.
Detectives believe Jordan began the book-selling scam about four years ago. " [I'm sure it had been going for longer than that]
"On Jordan's arrest in July 2002, police discovered 17,500 books worth an estimated £180,000 at his house." The Standard adds "He was released on bail and continued trading until his second arrest last year, when police seized 8,500 books worth about £90,000"
I understand that Lambeth also confisacted his van and stock for illegal street trading in 2001 - I have a vague idea that he somehow managed to get it back on appeal!!!
I wonder if it was the same guy who tried to set up 'shop' on the pavement outside Borough Market on a few occasions last summer. He nearly ran over a couple of pedestrians in his efforts to do a 92- point reverse turn to get onto the pavement outside Nat West. I think the market traders lodged objections once it became obvious that the pavement was getting jammed with his bookstall and customers and the police moved him on a couple of times. Like a rash, he came back until the last I saw, the van and it's contents were being packed up under the supervision of the police while several bemused customers were still trying to make purchases. Good riddance!
He was a miserable get too, the number of times I've walked past listening to him moaning on - several times I've thought he was in the wrong business as he seemed to detest the hassle of having to deal with people, and all the time he should have had the smile of a Cheshire Cat!
I saw him near Finsbury Square, he spoke like a pig to the poor soul working for him, so I would not buy a book, which did not seem much cheaper than the shops...he;ll be trading again next year no doubt.