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Thief steals from blind violinist as she performs in West Hampstead Christmas concert

Abi Baker, blind violinist who had her bag stolen from St James' Church, West Hampstead. Picture: Mark Hakansson Abi Baker, blind violinist who had her bag stolen from St James' Church, West Hampstead. Picture: Mark Hakansson

Thursday, December 19, 2013
8:00 AM

It is celebrated as the season of goodwill to all men – but for one blind woman this Christmas has been ruined by a callous thief who stole her handbag from a church as she played in a festive concert.

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Freelance musician Abi Baker has spoken of being left “numb” after she lost around £600 worth of personal items, her passport and two mobile phones installed with special screen-reading software to help with her disability during the theft.

She had left her handbag unattended in the unlocked hall at St James’ Church, Sherriff Road, West Hampstead, while she played the violin with the Brent Symphony 
Orchestra.

As she played, a thief snuck in and snatched her handbag. “It was a bit of a shock,” said 34-year-old Ms Baker, who has been blind since birth.

“I just felt completely numb. It was a Christmas concert and you would think people would be full of goodwill to all men.

“My debit card was taken so I can’t do my Christmas shopping. I love Christmas so it’s devastating that this has happened.”

She reported the theft to police, along with a 40-year-old woman who also had her bag stolen.

Ms Baker also lost her disabled persons railcard, a taxi card that gets her discounted fares and her house keys, forcing her to call a locksmith to change her locks.

Ms Baker, who has a guide dog, rang her mobile numbers everyday after the theft. On one occasion someone answered. He told her it was his phone, claiming he found it on a bus seat, and that he would not be giving it back.

“I bet he thought his Christmas had come early, but I got the number blocked the next day,” she said. “Luckily, he had only used about 14 minutes of my airtime.”

Ms Baker, who lives in Shepherds Bush, said she had asked a volunteer if her bag would be safe in the hall and was told that it would be.

Fr Andrew Cain, vicar at St James’, said: “I feel sorry for the women, but they left their bags during a busy concert unattended in an unlocked room with many people coming and going.”

A police spokesman confirmed that officers were investigating the thefts but as yet, no arrests have been made.

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