Moped thief chased by shopkeeper after stealing cognac from Highgate off-licence

A moped-riding robber stole more than £100 worth of spirits from an off-licence and almost caused a road accident during his getaway.

On Tuesday of last week a man wearing a crash helmet grabbed two bottles of Bourbon and two bottles of Cognac from the counter in Spirited Wines in Highgate High Street, Highgate, before running out and speeding away on a moped parked outside.

Shop manager Charles Verdier gave chase and pulled his rucksack as the raider drove away. The rider escaped but almost crashed into a passing car.

Mr Verdier said: “The man was pretending to have a big party and was making a false phone call to let me think he was buying for his father. I was putting the bottles on the counter when he asked for something else in the fridge, and during this lack of attention he ran away with the bottles.

“I wanted to catch him. I was angry that he tricked me so easily.”

The robbery happened at about 4pm and was reported to police.

The store has been targeted by thieves three times since last October, and premium alcohol such as cognac and champagne worth almost £700 has been stolen.

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In October, a group of four boys forced their way into the shop, pushed Mr Verdier over and ran off with five bottles of champagne worth £500.

The theft was the second to happen in a week after the same group stole one bottle days earlier.

Shop assistant Dan Schlesinger said thieves stole his new iPhone in January when he left it by the till as he helped customers.

Mr Verdier said the thefts and shop CCTV footage have been reported to police but there is little more he and staff can do to prevent thefts.

John Oakes, chairman of Highgate Village Business Association, said he would be contacting the police to see what they advise.

“In other shopping areas which are in closer operation with police, it sometimes produces good results where people are doing this opportunistic sort of smash and grab on a repetitive basis.

“I’m not aware of it happening anywhere else on the high street, but we need to be vigilant and I will be contacting police to see what they say.”