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Bridport diner's phone theft warning
11:37am Thursday 17th October 2013 in News
A THIEF stole an expensive mobile phone from under a diner’s nose.
Now victim James Irving-Bell is warning others to beware of the sleight of hand trick that lost him his iPhone 5 worth around £500.
A former police officer, Mr Irving-Bell was having a quiet meal with his wife Abbi in the Montien Thai Restaurant in East Street when a man entered carrying a bucket of tourism leaflets.
He slapped a few on the table and asked the couple to pay £1 for one of them.
When they waved him away he scooped up the pamphlets, taking the phone with him.
Now Mr Irving Bell, a sales director for a software company, is angry with the thief – and annoyed with himself for not spotting the trick.
“I suppose you could say it was very cleverly done,” he said.
“It’s the sort of thing you expect in inner cities, not here.
“We had popped into the restaurant for a bite to eat.
“We were chatting away and we were the only people in there.
“This young chap came in and dumped a load of leaflets on to the table.
“I just picked one up and he said that’s a pound and I said no thanks.
“He gathered them up and swept up the phone with them .
“It makes you feel like an idiot.
“I only had the phone out because I had just answered an email. I was in London with a group of friends where there were ten or 12 people around asking for money and we all had our valuables in our pockets, well out of sight.
“But this just shows it can happen in Bridport too.”
Another incident involving a suspect of a similar description, short, of Asian appearance and with a scruffy beard, was reported to police on the same day in Morcombelake.
Staff at the restaurant said if people wanted to leave information leaflets they were always told to leave them at the counter and diners could decide if they were interested.
Sigeera Suriyakham who was working in the restaurant on the evening said nothing similar had happened in there before.
“I have never heard of it happening anywhere in Bridport,” she said.
“I used to live in East Grinstead and occasionally you would hear of it happening there.”
Insp Mike Darby of Bridport police said: “I would ask people to remain vigilant when out and about and be aware of where their handbags and items like phones are.
“If you are somewhere like a café, restaurant, or bar where you leave your phone or laptop on the table in view, be aware that criminals may see this as an opportunity to distract the owners and steal the property.
“The use of the leaflets was a tactic to distract the victim from seeing the offence take place, so people need to be aware when they are confronted by unusual circumstances that don’t seem normal, and be suspicious of unusual events.”