Disabled woman targeted by phone snatchers in Harpenden pub

A DISABLED woman has been left devastated by the brazen theft of her mobile phone while she was eating in a pub with members of her family.

The phone, which she described as her lifeline, was snatched by two men who were persistently pushing her to buy greetings cards at the Slug and Lettuce in Harpenden at around 12.20pm on Saturday lunchtime.

The 52-year-old woman from St Albans wants to warn other diners to be aware of the incident and not fall victim to the same type of theft.

But she is also questioning why the two thieves were allowed to hassle people in the pub in full view of staff.

The victim explained: “We were having a late breakfast in the Slug and Lettuce and were sitting outside originally but because it was too sunny we went inside to a table near the bar in the main part by the double doors.”

The party was just chatting when two men came in, went up to their table and started to hassle her to buy greetings cards.

She got so angry with them that eventually she shouted at them – to a round of applause in the pub – to go away and leave her alone. But when they had gone, she looked down and found her mobile phone had disappeared from the table.

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She believes the men were outside originally and were looking around for a victim and settled on her. When she realised her iPhone was missing, she used her daughter-in-law’s phone to try and ring it but without success.

She was also upset because she claimed the manageress did not come over to see how she was and had not asked the men to leave although she was told that there had been three similar previous incidents in the current year.

The victim was also told that the two men could not be seen on either the pub’s CCTV because of the position of the table the party was sitting at or the district council’s CCTV which was turned in a different direction.

She said that when she contacted the Slug and Lettuce’s parent company Stonegate, she had been told they could not investigate for a week but she had asked them to replace the phone because it was not covered by insurance.

She said: “I am disabled and living on disability allowance and I can’t afford insurance. The phone is my lifeline but I would have to take out a new contract.

She added: “I am still really shaken up by this and I don’t know what to make of it. I keep thinking if they have had three incidents then I am the fourth and what measures are they taking about aggravated robbery on their premises?”

Police confirmed they had been called to the pub and described the two thieves as men of Asian appearance, in their twenties and both of a stocky build with short black hair. One was wearing a dark-coloured t-shirt and jeans while the second was wearing a white t-shirt.

A spokesman said there had been one other similar incident reported in July this year at the Slug and Lettuce and while police were not linking the crimes at this stage, they were both being investigated.

A spokesperson for Slug and Lettuce said: “We are sorry that our customer lost her phone in our premises as we have an extremely low level of petty theft within the bar.

“Unfortunately, incidents such as this are now not uncommon across the town and as a result we are now warning our customers to keep their belongings with them at all times. The theft was immediately reported to the police who are now investigating the matter.”

Anyone with information should contact police on the non-emergency number 101. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers, the independent charity, anonymously on 0800 555 111.