Spate of cash card thefts in St Albans


Police - Credit: Archant

A shocked victim of a distraction theft last week has spoken about his ordeal and how the incident has made him more cautious about taking out money in a public place.

It comes at the same time as a 20-year-old woman was jailed for stealing a debit card from an elderly woman in St Albans and using it fraudulently.

John Vercoe, of St Albans, was withdrawing money from a Royal Bank of Scotland cash point outside Tesco in Hatfield Road at around 2.30pm last Wednesday, April 16.

The lawyer said two men approached him and tricked him into putting his card back in the machine before making off with his pin number and card which they then used to withdraw £650 from a different cash point.

He said: “I went back to my wife because I thought the card had been gobbled up by that stage and she said you should tell the police. I still didn’t believe that a crime had taken place. It was only when my bank rang up I realised.

“There was no violence – they didn’t lay a hand on me. It’s a racket, they gave me every impression they were helping me.

The St Albans resident of seven years said he had always found Hatfield Road safe but the incident had changed his view: “I went into all the shops and told them about it to raise awareness. It’s made me a bit more cautious. The thing I hated about it most was the trick – they came to me and said we’re here to help you.”

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The police have issued a description of the two men in the hope they can be traced and questioned. The first man is thought to be of Asian or Eastern European appearance and aged between 18 and 25.

He is described as slim and between 5 ft 5 ins and 5 ft 8 ins and was wearing a black baseball cap and a black jacket. The other thief had a similar description but was wearing a baseball cap and a green bomber jacket with a red shirt.

At St Albans Magistrates Court earlier this month Narwaj Boubdallah, of East Ham, was jailed for stealing a debit card from an elderly woman who had just withdrawn cash from Lloyds Bank in Chequer Street before using it across the road at HSBC to withdraw £300.

With two other people – a 49-year-old woman and a 71-year-old man who are currently on police bail in connection with the theft – she was stopped outside St Albans Magistrates Court because they were acting suspiciously in a car. After a routine search Boubdallah was found to have a bank card with someone else’s name on it down her trousers. At the same time police were alerted to the theft by quick-thinking staff at Lloyds Bank.

Pc Shaun Woods from the St Albans Neighbourhoold Team described the attack as cowardly and said the victim no longer felt safe going out in the city. He went on: “We were very pleased to reunite the woman’s bank card and cash so quickly and reassure her that we had arrested the woman as well as two others we suspect were involved.”

He warned that purse dipping or pickpocketing was one of the biggest issues in St Albans and it was very satisfying to catch people red-handed.

Anyone with information about the distraction theft of Mr Vercoe’s card is asked to contact Pc Simon Roger on the Herts police non emergency number 101.