Gang keep robbing residents in Ilford ‘like full-time job’

A gang member throw boxes and bags at the shop owner

A gang member throw boxes and bags at the shop owner - Credit: Archant

A gang which has robbed so many people in the past six months it is “like a full-time job”, is still at large.

A gang member throw boxes and bags at the shop owner

A gang member throw boxes and bags at the shop owner - Credit: Archant

Despite the incidents being reported to police, along with CCTV footage, elderly and vulnerable people are still being targeted when they withdraw cash from an ATM in Green Lane, Ilford.

Business owners have tried to stop the men but have been physically and verbally abused.

One shop owner had things thrown at his head and a member of the public had to shut the shop’s door to keep the men out.

Another said she has reported lots of the crimes and sent in footage of the incidents but the situation keeps happening.

“The last six months have been so horrible, they make me feel so intimidated,” she said.

“They keep coming back, it feels as if they have been here hundreds of times”.

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A business owner further down the road said the gang members watch for victims from the other side of the road and then go over to “help” them, while stealing their card and pin.

They then go on a shopping spree in nearby Ilford town centre, often spending large quantities of money in one transaction.

“It must be their main source of bread and butter, they are here all the time,” he said. “It is like a full-time job for them.

“The worse thing about it is they make out that they are helping these people and say their card has been sucked into the machine, but then they go on a spending spree in Ilford, spending hundreds of pounds.

“They often choose vulnerable or elderly targets or people whose first language is not English.

“Police only have to park up around the corner to see it

“I can’t understand why they have not been stopped – how long does this have to go on for before something is done?”

The Recorder spoke to some of the victims and one agreed to speak to us about his ordeal.

The man, in his 60s, said he feels angry about what happened and embarrassed about the robbery.

His English is not fluent and he said he thought the men were trying to be of assistance.

“I didn’t realise it till later, but the men distracted me and took my card – I thought the machine had it inside it,” he said with the help of a translator.

“Later I called the card company to sort everything out and then I found out more than £500 had been spent in different shops in Ilford – £250 was in a trainer/tracksuit shop.

“I was shocked to discover that I was not the only victim and there were many, many others out there who had also been conned by the same group.”

Another two residents confirmed a similar scenario had taken place when they tried to withdraw cash, leaving their bank balances several hundred pounds lighter.

A business spokesman said: “I don’t know what the solution is, maybe more CCTV maybe plainclothed police, but it needs to stop. All the shops along here are fed up.

“They keep coming back as they are getting away with it, they are not getting caught.

“We used to have police walking up and down the road all the time, now we don’t see them.

“Even when we report it nothing gets done – they don’t care about these people or the small businesses who have been here for a long time and have to put up with it.”

A Met Police spokesman said Redbridge police are aware “of a number of distraction thefts” taking place outside an ATM in Green Lane including a woman in her 80s having her bank card taken and a woman in her 30s being targeted.

“Officers in Redbridge have recovered local CCTV footage which is being analysed,” he said.

“Officers will also be meeting local shop owners to discuss this issue.”

No arrests have been made.