Bag snatching duo jailed after targeting victims in station cafés – London
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A pair of bag thieves who teamed up to target victims in rail station cafés have been jailed for a combined 32 months following a British Transport Police (BTP) investigation.
Hernan Montero-Villegas, 54, and Miguel Angel Contreras-Nova, 39, both of no fixed addresses, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of theft and one count of money laundering.
They both attended Inner London Crown Court on Thursday 8 June where a judge sentenced Montero-Villegas to 18 months imprisonment and Contreras-Nova to 14 months.
The first incident occurred on 25 February when Montero-Villegas targeted a 54-year-old woman who was sat drinking a cup of tea in Liverpool Street station’s Soho Coffee café.
He spotted her rucksack on the floor and began manoeuvring it away from her with his foot before taking his own rucksack off, concealing hers behind it and leaving with both.
The victim’s rucksack contained €100, £40, her driving licence, bank cards and a phone charger.
Less than a month later, on 22 March, Montero-Villegas and Contreras-Nova stole a 50-year-old woman’s bag from the Starbucks inside London Waterloo station as she sat with her colleagues.
Contreras-Nova pretended to be on the phone and walked around the café while Montero-Villegas again used his foot to move the bag away from the victim. He picked it up and left the café with Contreras-Nova in tow.
Her bag contained a purse containing £200 and other various items including her reading glasses and an umbrella.
The final offence occurred on 28 March in London St Pancras’ Paul Express café when Montero-Villegas and Contreras-Nova again combined to swipe a 50-year-old man’s satchel.
It contained two Eurostar tickets, a film script, earphones, a phone charger and his passport.
Just two days later, on 30 March, a BTP officer patrolling London Bridge station spotted the pair and arrested them in connection to the bag thefts.
They were further arrested at police custody for money laundering for being in possession of more than £3,000.
PC Steve Bryan said: “Montero-Villegas and Contreras-Nova are clearly experienced bag snatchers who have refined their tactics to avoid being detected by the unsuspecting victims they target.
“What they failed to realise is that the railway is a CCTV-rich environment and here at BTP we are relentless in our pursuit of thieves. We won’t stop until they’re put before the courts.
“I hope the adequately long prison terms handed down to them provides the three victims with the comfort of justice being served.
“If you’re a victim of theft on the railway, report it to us as soon as possible by texting 61016 – we’ll always take swift action.”