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Council worker helps police nab Ilford bag snatcher

Phil Smith works as manager of housing standards for Redbridge Council (Picture: Phil Smith) Phil Smith works as manager of housing standards for Redbridge Council (Picture: Phil Smith)

Monday, August 25, 2014
9:00 AM

An eagle-eyed council worker has been praised by police for helping catch a bag snatcher.

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Phil Smith was on his lunch break in Ilford town centre when he witnessed a man grab a woman’s bag and make off into the distance.

“I suddenly became aware of someone shouting ‘stop him’,” he said.

“There was a male running between fronts and the market stalls towards me.

“I was standing near the bottom of Chadwick Road, near the Exchange.

“I had a quick look round - if there had been police in hot pursuit I might have challenged him.

“But there weren’t so I didn’t - he might have had a knife.”

The 59-year-old from South Woodford then spotted the thief, described as wearing a “loud” coat, dump the bag in a bin before flagging down a police car on another call.

With his and the help of another woman, police later apprehended the bag snatcher, and 25-year-old Rick Ayres, of Mortlake Road, Ilford, was fined £345 at Barkingside Magistrates’ Court on August 6.

He will also have to do 150 hours unpaid work for the June 27 offence.

Mr Smith, who works in Redbridge Council’s housing department, said there was a “simple message” behind his actions.

“You do not have to be a ‘have-a-go’ hero,” he said.”

“You can just try to observe things and help police to do what they’re doing.”

He went on: “I’m very pleased. I’m not such a hero. I just wanted help, and I’m glad I could.”

Redridge Borough Commander Sue Williams said: “It is always good to see the public playing their part in crime reduction and assisting the police with vital information that has led to the identification and apprehending of the suspect.

“Phil Smith’s prompt action ensured the victim of crime had satisfaction in knowing the suspect was caught and that her property was recovered promptly.

“We are grateful for his assistance.”

Read more:

Police to push for more officers as force faces ‘exceptionally busy weekend’
Organised crime linked to spate of van thefts
Thousands of Redbridge residents targeted by internet criminals

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