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Hugger muggers on rampage in Westminster

PUBLISHED: 11:23 28 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:39 07 September 2010

A NEW form of robbery where friendly strangers dance with their victims and then take their wallets has hit north Westminster. Police have warned that hugger mugger robbers, who previously operated in central London, are now moving on to Paddington, Edg

A NEW form of robbery where friendly strangers dance with their victims and then take their wallets has hit north Westminster.

Police have warned that "hugger mugger" robbers, who previously operated in central London, are now moving on to Paddington, Edgware Road and Bayswater.

Since April this year there has been 120 "hugger muggings" in Westminster and 20 per cent have been in the north of the borough.

Det Con Mark Stevenson, from the local robbery squad, has investigated many of the recent cases.

He said: "This type of crime used to be around Soho, Charing Cross Road and the West End.

"But now it's branched off to Edgware Road, Bayswater and Paddington. And it's only a matter of time until it spreads to St John's Wood.

"Originally the hugger muggers targeted the gay community but then it progressed to men and women who are intoxicated.

"We've even had reports from east London because it's such an easy way to engage victims."

Hugger muggings first came to the attention of the police around three years ago when pick pocketing gangs started to update their tactics to avoid detection.

The robbers often pretend to be drunk themselves and target people coming out of pubs and clubs in the early hours.

The Met has revealed that these affable criminals are now responsible for 60 per cent of muggings in Westminster.

The latest incident involved two unsuspecting university students celebrating after a football match in Bayswater.

The students, both in their early 20s, were outside The Swan pub on Bayswater Road at 11.30pm on Saturday, November 15, when they were approached by two men.

After striking up a conversation the men - who are also in their 20s and believed to be of north African origin - started dancing with the students.

But their victims quickly realised something was wrong and pushed the touchy-feely dancers off.

Unfortunately it was only after the robbers left that one of the students realised his wallet was gone.

Anyone with any information about the incident should contact police on 020-7321 7518.


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