School purse snatchers arrested

2009-03-12 00:00

A gang’s shopping mall spending spree, at the expense of parents of schoolchildren in the city, has been cut short after two of their members have been nabbed.

Mark Whitelaw, second master at Cordwalles School, yesterday warned schools and parents to be more vigilant about crime. He described to The Witness how the drama unfolded.

He said that last Tuesday two mothers and a grandmother who had come either to fetch children or to watch them play cricket had their credit cards stolen from their unlocked cars, which were parked in the school grounds.

“One mother did not realise her cards were missing until she began getting smses telling her that her credit card had been used for purchases at Gateway shopping centre and at the Liberty Midlands Mall.”

Whitelaw said she went to Liberty Midlands Mall and watched footage of the thieves spending on her credit card on the security cameras there.

Then on Tuesday this week, while fetching her child from Cordwalles, she recognised one of the men from the camera footage, who was parked inside the school grounds in a green Fiat Uno.

The woman alerted the staff and Whitelaw, who takes care of security at Cordwalles, approached the man while other staff called the police and the school’s security company.

“The man was so calm, I almost let him go. I asked what he wanted and he said he was waiting for a meeting with someone called Claude who had not yet arrived.” The thief then asked if there was cricket on at the school on that day.

“That’s when I became suspicious. I asked him to accompany me to my office.”

When police arrived, they arrested both men, and after searching the boot of the car found the purse of a mother who had been parked at the school at the same time.

Police spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan confirmed the arrests. She said Allan Hulley (32) and Ricardo Baker (26) appeared in court yesterday charged with four counts of theft from a motor vehicle, one of theft and one of fraud.

She said police believe a syndicate may be at work.

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