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Violent robbers strike on Heath

PUBLISHED: 16:13 30 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:09 07 September 2010

Ben McPartland LONE women and schoolchildren have been targeted in a series of violent robberies around Hampstead Heath. Security at the Royal Free hospital in Hampstead has also been called into question after thieves stole about £30,000 in cash from a s

Ben McPartland

LONE women and schoolchildren have been targeted in a series

of violent robberies around

Hampstead Heath.

Security at the Royal Free hospital in Hampstead has also been called into question after thieves stole about £30,000 in cash from a security van making a delivery to an ATM machine inside.

Tuesday's raid follows an incident at the hospital last Saturday when a community police officer was headbutted as he tried to arrest a suspect.

Police are advising people to be vigilant after the robberies.

On April 23 at about 2.20pm a 44-year-old woman was targeted in North End Way, opposite Jack Straw's Castle.

She was grabbed by the throat and hurled to the ground before her attackers stripped her of valuables including a watch. They escaped in a BMW car towards Heath Street and the victim was left with bruising on her neck.

The previous day, a woman was in Mansfield Road at 12.30am when she saw a man emerge from the entrance at the southern edge of the Heath. He began shouting at her and grabbed her handbag.

The 22-year-old was held by the throat and after a struggle had her bag ripped away. She was left with bruising on her neck and knee.

Janine Griffis, of the Camden Community and Police Consultative Group, said: "You would hope you could always walk around wearing any of your possessions. You have to be aware that you can be targeted. We can only recommend that people take appropriate measures, however distasteful that might be."

Nigel Steward, of the Hampstead Safer Neighbourhoods panel, added: "I think the state of the economy is a relevant factor here. People are on the look-out for cash, especially in areas like Hampstead."

Two boys have also been targeted by gangs of thugs in the early evenings on April 23 and 24 - when a flick knife was used to make threats on a 15-year-old, near the Highgate Ponds.

Jonathan Bergman, of the South End Green Traders' Association, called for security to be stepped up at the Royal Free, where long-term security chief Chris John left his post recently. He said: "They need to up their game because these incidents highlight areas of vulnerability."

The suspects in the robberies on women are white men and, in the case of the attacks on schoolboys, a group of youths aged 15 to 17. Anyone with information should call 020-7404 1212 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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