Goodmayes chauffeur calls for dedicated task force to tackle pickpocketing on buses

Goodmayes residents Paddy O'Connor and John Zafarsha. Picture: Imogen Braddick

Goodmayes residents Paddy O'Connor and John Zafarsha. Picture: Imogen Braddick - Credit: Archant

A Goodmayes chauffeur is calling for a dedicated police task force to tackle pickpocketing on London buses after the theft of his wallet put him out of business for four weeks.

Paddy O'Connor, 65, was travelling on the EL3 in Goodmayes on Saturday, July 6 when he became aware of a woman bumping into him every time the bus slowed down.

Seconds after getting off the bus, he realised his wallet was missing and called 999.

Paddy, who has lived in Goodmayes for 35 years, said: "The bus could have been stopped. I want the police to be proactive out there. The bus went straight past the police station - this woman could have been stopped."

Paddy won't be able to work until he gets all his documentation replaced.

"I have lost everything from the wallet," he said. "I feel angry and there needs to be action. There needs to be a dedicated task force for London buses. We need a hotline for crime on buses."

There were 194 reports of theft on buses in Redbridge in 2018-19, up from 165 in 2017-18, according to TfL figures.

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When Paddy went down to the bus garage the next day to voice his concerns, he said two other people came forward and said they had been targeted too.

He said. "It's becoming a major issue and nothing is being done. I just want to warn people that this is happening."

In the past year, Paddy has had his credit card scammed at a cash machine and his wife has also been robbed.

"These are people who have lived in the area all their lives and it's getting worse," he said. "This has hit me hard - it's put me out of business for weeks. I won't be using buses anymore, as long as I can help it. It's a dangerous place to be.

"It's a big issue, TfL need to step up and sort out bus crime."

TfL said it funds nearly 3,000 officers across the whole TfL network and it has a team dedicated to policing the buses.

Siwan Hayward, director of compliance, policing and on-street operations at TfL, said: "London's transport network is a safe, low crime environment and we fund thousands of officers dedicated to policing our transport network.

"We have seen a slight increase in theft offences on buses in Redbridge but the rate of crime remains low.

"We are working with the police to target thieves which includes targeted uniform and plain clothes police patrols to disrupt their activity, as well as providing crime prevention advice to our customers.

"We'd like to remind all customers to keep an eye on their belongings and keep bags and rucksacks closed."