Shocking footage shows the moment two would-be thieves worked together to box in a Bermondsey woman in her 80s and reach into her shopping trolley – before she chased them away.
Maureen Hodges, 86, was shopping in Bell and Sons butcher’s in the Blue market earlier this month (October 15) for saveloys and marrow bones for her grandson’s dog when two people who appear to be women subtly began following her across the shop.
One went very close in front of her and the other came in from behind. Footage shows the woman standing behind covering her hand with her bag and reaching into Maureen’s trolley.
Luckily Maureen soon caught on to what was happening, turned round and confronted the woman in no uncertain terms.
“If the language had been coming out on that film I think I would have been arrested by the police,” she joked. “It was atrocious language. But it’s so clever the way they do it. The two of them having a go. I hadn’t even noticed it when I turned round.”
The woman who was caught reaching into Maureen’s trolley walked off out of the shop while the other stayed and finished her purchase.
Simon Bell, who owns the family butcher’s, said he was surprised to find out the woman spent about £10 in the shop on expensive cakes. He added that he didn’t recognise them and they haven’t been back since.
Maureen said that she didn’t feel traumatised by the attempted robbery but that it has given her pause for thought. “It’s never happened to me, and I’m 86 years old. I never dreamed of it walking down the Blue.
“If it happened to me, it could happen to anyone. I suppose I’m more vulnerable than I thought though.
“But I’m a very strong person really. I’ve had phone call after phone call from people. One said ‘what if she had a knife?’ I think I would have had a go anyway.
“I’m still ready to have a fight. I’m not one of those people that gets traumatised easily.”
Maureen said that her neighbour told her: “You go down there looking too smart, you look like you’ve got a few bob.”
But she added that the incident was another reminder to her of how times have changed in the area she knows so well.
“I’ve stood outside on the stalls in the Blue, no one ever touched a penny from the till and they were open,” she said. “You can’t walk the streets now how you want to. You’re not safe now.”
Footage shared with the News comes from Bell and Sons CCTV cameras, which captured the incident. Maureen, who has known Simon for decades, was full of praise for him and his staff.
“Give Si his due to have all them cameras up,” she said. “He’s a lovely boy, he doesn’t deserve it.” Simon wasn’t in at the time of the attempted robbery and his son and daughter were on duty. Maureen added that one of them ran out and tried to find the would-be thief but they had disappeared.
Maureen said she wanted to get the word out to raise awareness of this kind of robbery and stop other elderly people being victimised. She will be “more vigilant and alert”.
But she said that she would “carry on the same”, adding: “I’m not going to be dictated to about what I can and can’t do. I should be able to walk the streets I was born in as free as when I was younger.
“You know, the old people still get out with their dolly trollies, and you shouldn’t have to look out over your shoulder to see who’s going to mug you.”
Simon said they had not called the police because nothing had gone missing. “They chose the wrong person to pick on,” he added. “Maureen’s streetwise – she’s seen it all before.”