Gangs of muggers targeting pensioners withdrawing cash from Gants Hill bank

Jack Peston, 86, had his pocket picked by a man who asked hm for directions

Jack Peston, 86, had his pocket picked by a man who asked hm for directions - Credit: Archant

Groups of organised criminals are targeting pensioners taking out cash from a bank.

An 86-year-old and a 72-year-old were robbed by different groups, with one having a substance sprayed in his face and the other distracted with a map.

Grandfather-of-two Jack Peston, 86, said being mugged has “upset me so much”.

He was visiting Barclays bank in Cranbrook Road, Gants Hill to withdraw £300.

On his way back he was approached by a man with a heavy Eastern European accent brandishing a map and asking for directions.

Mr Peston, who uses a mobility scooter, said: “I didn’t realise he was going under my shirt and had unzipped my jacket.

“They are so clever. I’m an old man, what could I do? I would not hurt anybody.”

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Mr Peston, of Gants Hill, said he must have been watched in the bank as this is the only way the men would have known where he had hidden the money.

Within a couple of hours, another man was attacked outside the bank by three youths who at first got away with his bus pass before returning to find the money.

The 72-year-old had something, believed to be pepper spray, squirted in his face before being pushed to the ground. The robbers fled with £500.

His son Syad Ali, 32, of Gants Hill, said the attack was “disgusting”.

Det Insp Craig Robinson said precautions, such as splitting up your money into different pockets, doing more transactions inside the bank and taking someone with you, could all prevent you becoming a victim.

Mr Robinson added: “We are aware of groups that do target elderly people that have been to the bank and will, in turn, follow them. These are organised groups of criminals and it’s a common method that’s been used by them.”

n Anyone with information about either theft should call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.