Two men have been jailed, and another three sentenced, for stealing £156,781 worth of items from members of the public in a series of thefts across London.
The thefts took place during the late night and early morning as the victims were travelling home after a night out. In each incident, the victims’ bank cards were stolen and used fraudulently, including for the purchase of £37,000 worth of designer clothing.
The men pleaded guilty at Inner London Crown Court on Friday 12 August 2022 to the acquisition, use and possession of the criminal property, conspiracy to steal and conspiracy to defraud following an investigation by the City of London Police’s Major Crime Team. They were sentenced on Thursday 24 November 2022 at the same court as follows:
- Mohammed Yusuf, 26, of Langton Road, Harrow, was sentenced to three years and nine months imprisonment and handed a five-year criminal behaviour order.
- Arun Babbar, 23, of Kingsfield Avenue, Harrow, was sentenced to three years and four months imprisonment and handed a five-year criminal behaviour order.
- Hamzah Mahmood, 25, of High Road, Wembley, was sentenced to 23 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and handed a three-year criminal behaviour order. He was also ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement, wear an electronic tag for three months and observe a curfew for six months.
- Reece Brown, 25, of Binyon Crescent, Harrow was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and handed a two-year criminal behaviour order. He was also ordered to complete a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement and wear an electronic tag for three months.
- Mahamed Hassan, 25, of Station Road, Harrow was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for two years and handed a two-year criminal behaviour order. He was also ordered to complete a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement and wear an electronic tag for three months.
Detective Sergeant Dominic Shaw, from City of London Police’s Major Crime Team, said:
“This group deliberately targeted people who had been on a night out, as they knew they would be more vulnerable to theft. They earned the trust of their victims, sometimes enough to be invited into their homes, before stealing tens of thousands of pounds from their bank and cryptocurrency accounts.
“However, the men left several traces of their activity and City of London Police officers were able to link them to each theft through CCTV footage and financial evidence. This result shows that we have the tools to stop this type of criminal activity and will take action against those who engage in criminal behaviour in the City.”
At around midnight on 26 November 2021, Babbar, Mahmood and Yusuf approached a man near Cannon Street. He was unable to remember the conversation he had with the group, but recalled withdrawing £10 from an ATM while they stood around him. He later realised that £1,150 had been spent using his bank cards while he was with the group, and a third card was missing.
Babbar, Brown, Mahmood and Yusuf also spoke to another victim near Moorgate the same night. They purchased alcohol and drove to his home in Ealing. CCTV footage showed that all five men entered the victim’s flat at around 4am and Babbar, Brown, Mahmood and Yusuf left at 8.25am. The victim later noticed his credit card was missing.
The missing bank cards were used to buy £10,420 worth of designer clothing from boutiques in London between 10am and 11.30am the same day.
On 28 November 2021, Babbar and Hassan offered a lift home to a man as he left a club near Euston. The men arrived at the victim’s home at around 6.40am, and Babbar and Hassan left an hour later. At around 6pm, the victim noticed that four watches, worth a total of £26,800, were missing from his bedroom, and £27,000 from his bank account had been spent in designer clothing and sportswear stores earlier that day.
CCTV footage showed Babbar, Brown, Mahmood and Yusuf were inside each of the stores on 26 and 28 November at the time the missing bank cards were used.
Babbar was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service on 16 December 2021 in relation to a robbery near London Bridge on 14 October 2021, for which he received an eight month prison sentence to run concurrently to his sentences for the thefts.
On 5 March 2022, City of London Police officers observed Hassan and Mahmood standing close to a man as he withdrew money from an ATM on Eastcheap. Hassan and Mahmood told officers that the man was their friend, but were unable to confirm his name when asked.
Mahmood was found to be in possession of two bank cards that did not belong to him. Enquiries revealed that the owner of the cards had lost them while travelling home from a bar in Shoreditch the previous night.
On 8 March, officers from the City of London Police and Metropolitan Police Service searched the home addresses of Mahmood, Brown, Hassan and Yusuf. Evidence found on Mahmood’s mobile phone linked him to three additional thefts reported in December 2021 and February 2022.
A cryptocurrency wallet owned by Babbar was linked to a further five thefts, totalling the equivalent of £59,991, between 21 September and 17 November 2021.
All five men will now be subject to confiscation proceedings.