August 20 2014 Latest news:
by John Toner
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Pensioner Bert Smith has been a victim of thefts at cash machines three times in the space of a year.
Bert, 78, of Beehive Lane, Ilford, has had his bank card and cash taken from him on three occasions, with the thieves then going on to use his card to withdraw money and make purchases.
He estimated that more than £1,000 has been taken.
The latest incident took place on March 7 at the Barclays cash machine on the corner of Cranbrook Road and Beehive Lane, Ilford.
He said: “I was standing at the machine and someone was looking over my shoulder, then bang! They’d grabbed them [his card and cash] and ran off.”
Bert has been a victim of this type of crime twice at cashpoints in Barkingside High Street. Police say they were distraction thefts, when a person watches the victim enter their PIN number, then distracts them at the moment their card and money are being returned from a cashpoint and steals them.
The experiences have been frightening for Bert.
He said: “The last time I just collapsed. I fell down and cried, it was awful. A complete stranger came along and comforted me until my wife arrived. I don’t know what I would have done without that kind stranger.”
Pc Yaz Arshad, of the Fullwell safer neighbourhood team, said: “We do know of this issue and we are co-ordinating with the banks, the safer neighbourhood teams and community groups to help prevent it from happening.”
Bert’s wife Edna, 76, feels the police haven’t done enough to catch the people who stole from her husband.
She said: “They didn’t even check the CCTV. It’s not about the money – the effect it has on the person is terrible. My husband was shocked rigid by the whole thing, it’s disgraceful.”
Bert said: “These days I go into the bank and withdraw it from an actual person at the counter instead.”
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