Distraction theft at St Albans restaurant

PUBLISHED: 12:39 29 September 2013

Archant

The victim of a distraction theft at a St Albans restaurant has warned people to be extra vigilant with their mobile phones.

A group of men approached Joe Murtagh when he was having a meal at The Ancient Briton Harvester on Harpenden Road last Friday evening and thrust a flyer in front of him while swiping his £500 iPhone off the table.

The 20-year-old, of Park Street, said the three men had been bothering other diners and also managed to snatch a mobile phone from another customer’s pocket.

He explained: “I was having a meal with a friend from school when half-way through pudding some bloke came up to me with a flyer speaking in a foreign language and used it to distract me.

“He put another flyer over my phone and took it. I was quite peeved with that and I did try to chase after him but they were long gone.”

Joe also said he was angry that staff at the Harvester had not stepped in to stop the group walking around the restaurant as they had been there for some time.

The student added: “It is the kind of thing you don’t expect to happen to you so I’m saying always be as careful as you can and never leave your phone out on show.

“If they have done it before they will do it again.”

Herts Police confirmed the incident took place at around 7.45pm and said the thieves are thought to be of a Middle Eastern appearance and aged between early 20s and late 30s.

A spokesman said: “I would appeal to anyone who believes they know who the suspects are or who have seen them in the area to contact police as soon as possible on 101.

“Although these incidents are rare, I would urge people to help keep their mobile phones safe by staying alert and being aware of your surroundings when out and about.

“Apps can also be downloaded which help trace stolen smart phones.”

Harvester refused to comment.

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