Last night, around 8pm (Monday 18 Jan), I was assaulted at the bus stop on London Road (the one at the South Bank University exit for the Bakerloo Line). I intervened as a thief tried to pick the pocket of a passenger waiting to board the No.1 bus. He moved away, yelling abuse, and then came back to clout me around the face.
I would like to pass on my sincere thanks to the young couple [I don't know their names] who waited with me while the police came, to the 999 call handler who was great, and to the police who came very quickly.
If you, or someone you know, happened to witness what happened (either because you were also waiting at the bus-stop or on the No.!, travelling in the direction of Canada Water), I would be very grateful if you could contact Southwark Police and tell them what you saw or heard, especially if you saw where the men (there were two of them, working together) went after they disappeared around the corner of the NHS building onto the SBU campus (the street which goes down to the homeless shelter). Also, if you work or live in one of the buildings in the vicinity and think you might have CCTV footage of the incident, again I would be very grateful if you could pass this on to Southwark Police.
I've been careful about the details I've given so as to not prejudice the chances of a successful prosecution, given the (however remote) possibility that the two guys can be caught.
However, I can tell you how they operate, which is for one to join the throng of people waiting to board a bus, and use the melee as cover while he goes through someone's pockets or bags. However, he then doesn't get on the bus. I assume he passes anything he manages to lift to his mate, who - last night - was hanging around in the background with a carrier bag.
It's not the first time I've seen this happening at the same bus-stop. Another ruse is for the thief to push onto the bus ahead of everyone else, but then not have a valid ticket, or be smoking a cigarette, so the driver turfs him off and he pushes back through the crowd of people getting on, again having a fish through pockets and bags. However, normally the alarm is raised and they scarper PDQ.
The upsetting thing about last night was that the guy came back to hit me and then pretty calmly walked away again.
LOL! If you'd seen me in the aftermath, I wouldn't have seemed so spirited - shaking like a leaf and bawling!! But thank you for your kind words - the important thing is to have some perspective and know that most people are decent folk like you, not "big" men who don't think twice about robbing or thumping someone about two-thirds their size.
McQueen; you're a hero. I know the police will say don't take any action, but the problem is people rarely take any action and the B*****ds doing the dirty deed get away with it. And, because these 'people' get away with it they tend to get even more 'courage' for more dangerous crimes; dangerous to others that is.
As for the people who helped you a hearty well done! If your actions have made you feel good then they should.
I love to read stories of bravery and humanity. Most people in the borough and country want to be like McQueen and your helpers, perhaps one day the laws will be such that the innocent get more protection than the scum that seem to receive the protection.
Sorry this happened McQueen, why no cctv at bus stops? with all this sneaky technology available why cant they hide cameras in the numbers boards...
and your right to describe it as a melee at those stops, I think the bus routes should be spread out more at different stops, perhaps that would stop the thirty or so jostling and pushing which hides the thieving gits, reading that back not quite sure if it makes sense!
Several years ago while shopping in East Lane, and looking at some items on a crowded stall with my handbag over my shoulder I was amazed to see a hand delving inside which naturally I grabbed and squeezed so hard I felt her bones crunch!..I have incredibly strong hands..she yelped and I yelled at her to get her ****hands out of my bag, she back off saying she was only trying to reach the stall..so I followed her all the way down shouting out 'watch your purses' listening to your ordeal Mc.Queen not quite sure now if I would do it! but one never know what one does on impulse...