Manor Park woman foils knife-wielding pickpocket

A bus passenger has spoken of her shock at finding a knife-wielding pickpocket cutting through her handbag trying to steal her purse.

Lee-Ann Richards was on a number 25 bus going home on the evening of July 26 when the wpopuld-be thief struck.

Lee-Ann, 25, who lives in Manor Park, was standing towards the front of the bus to stop her shopping bags falling over.

She said she was holding her zipped handbag in front of her when she noticed the man. “He was standing next to me. I thought he was getting a bit too close me so I moved away. He must have moved over again two times.

“Then I had a strange feeling. I saw he had his hand in my bag and was pulling out my purse.

“He had cut the bag at the side with a knife.”

She shouted at the man, whom she described as Asian, about 5 ft 4ins, and was wearing a thick bomber jacket.

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The man then ran off the bus. Another passenger told her that another two men had been standing behind her while this was going on.

Lee-Ann reported the incident to Newham police who are investigating the incident.

She said the incident had left her unable to sleep and angry that the man had dared to invade her personal space to the extent that he had. She is also angry that although many passengers saw what was happening, no-one said or did anything.

However, Lee-Ann is determined to not to let it affect her day-to-day activities but she is urging other women to be extra vigilant.

Robbery Squad Detective Inspector Andy Furphy said: “This method of pick picketing is not unheard of, but is certainly very rare in Newham. Commuters can prevent themselves coming a victim of this crime by remaining vigilant and being aware of who is around them.

“Never leave your bag unattended or out of sight, keep bags close and be discreet with your belongings; phones, wallets/purses and cameras. If you are unfortunate enough to become a victim of pick pocketing, call 999 immediately. In Newham we have a dedicated robbery response team who have the ability to attend robbery calls immediately. The quicker you call them, the better chance we have of catching the criminal.”

A TfL spokesperson said: “The safety and security of our customers is our top priority, and we are always willing to assist with police investigations, including providing support in obtaining CCTV evidence. Although crime on the bus network is low, with only 10.5 crimes per million passenger journeys, we ask all of our customers to remain vigilant and look after their belongings.”