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Table-surfing crimewave sweeping bars and cafés in Islington

15:09 12 July 2012

'Table-surfing' is a growing problem.

2010 Getty Images

Police say they are a tackling a new table-surfing crimewave sweeping Islington.

How to stay safe

- Keep valuables out of sight and your with you. As well as attracting pickpockets, you could cause a security alert.

- In restaurants, bars or theatres don’t keep bags on the floor or over the back of your chair out of sight

- On buses or trains, wear them in front of you, not over your shoulder.

- Don’t’ keep all valuables in one place and don’t carry lots cash around with you.

- Visit www.btp.police.uk/pickpockets/ to see how theives operate

Table surfing is a distraction- based theft that is becoming more common in busy bars and cafés around Angel Tube, with up to 45 incidents taking place over a weekend.

People who leave their phone on a table while they are reading or using a tablet device are most at risk. The crook either walks past, swiping the phone as they go, or approaches the victim with a map or Big Issue and puts it over the phone.

When they leave, they pick up the map or magazine and take the phone with it.

Islington police recently launched a big operation to target table surfing, with large numbers of uniformed plain clothes officers, as well as surveillance.

They made nine arrests over the nineday period, and intend to repeat the operation as criminals will see the Olympic crowds as rich pickings.

Det Insp Simon Smith said: “The basic message, is don’t leave your phone on the table.

“This goes on in cafés as well as bars and on a busy night they can go from table to table, stealing phones in a single venue.

“A few of the people we have arrested are drug addicts, but mainly they are eastern European, sometimes from the same family or village, who see this as their job, and they are not going to stop.

“It is a rising problem in Islington and they are organised gangs.

‘‘We think they are coming here in preparation for the Olympics.”

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