Golders Green's elderly shoppers at risk from crime gangs

PUBLISHED: 10:29 18 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:41 07 September 2010

PICKPOCKETS have been preying on the elderly in Golders Green, following them from cashpoints and the Post Office to steal their money

Ed Thomas

PICKPOCKETS have been preying on the elderly in Golders Green, following them from cashpoints and the Post Office to steal their money.

Gangs of both men and women, believed to be from Eastern Europe, are behind the cruel crime trend.

"Last week I went to Barclays to take out £80 for my weekly shopping, then went to the Cancer Research charity shop," said 74-year-old victim Nelly Ave, from Wildwood Road in Hampstead Garden Suburb.

"I was queuing at the till and went into my shopping trolley for my handbag, but it had gone. I didn't see anyone take it, but it must have happened between the bank and the shop.

"It's very frightening for pensioners. I got very worried because my name and address were written down inside the bag and I was thinking they might come to the house. I couldn't sleep at all that night.

"Luckily, my bus pass wasn't in my handbag, but I had to go home without any food."

Many shopkeepers in the area have suffered at the hands of pickpockets and shoplifters.

Some have seen groups of women carrying small babies with them, while others have seen groups of male pickpockets.

Assistant manager of the Cancer Research shop, Faisal Mao, said: "Last Wednesday afternoon another lady had her purse taken in here. She was in her 80s and was in tears.

"I've seen these people walking around the shop, standing next to customers. Then they pinch things from their bags and pockets.

"It's very worrying for elderly people. We've had to ban certain people from coming into the shop because they are always stealing. I think they may be Albanian or Romanian.

"The other day someone spat at me when I spotted them trying to take something and I asked them to leave.

"We tell our elderly customers to be wary, but what can you do? These people are in groups and they hide around the corner from the banks and the Post Office, then follow vulnerable people into the shops."

A spokesman for Barnet Police said local Safer Neighbourhood teams are aware of the issue.

"Officers on patrol are watching out for pickpockets and advising people to keep their valuables close to them at all times.

"In addition, when sitting down in coffee shops, people should not let their bags out of their sight."

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