Prolific bag and phone thief barred from London’s 35,000 licensed premises

Rodney Williams.

Rodney Williams. - Credit: Archant

A prolific handbag and phone thief has been banned indefinitely from entering any pub, bar, restaurant, café or club in London in an “unusual” court ruling.

Rodney Williams, 34, of no fixed address, was arrested in April on suspicion of stealing a handbag from a bar in Hoxton.

Extensive police inquiries then identified Williams as a suspect for 12 further thefts in pubs, clubs and restaurants along the A10 corridor, after trawling through many hours of CCTV footage.

Williams pleaded guilty to all of the offences, and appeared at Snaresbrook Crown Court last Tuesday for sentencing, where he received four years imprisonment for the first count of theft and four years to run concurrently, on each of the subsequent 12 counts.

An ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) was also imposed indefinitely, preventing Williams from entering any licensed premises within Greater London, excluding supermarkets, unless the express written consent is obtained by the owner or manager.

This amounts to an estimated 35,000 licensed venues within the 32 London Boroughs.

Acting Ch Insp Ian Simpkins from Hackney Police said the “excellent result” had come about after a lot of hard work. “This may not be a landmark but it is certainly very unusual,” he said.

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“It was detailing the very real impact of a stolen phone on victims that contributed to such a long order, I believe.

“The loss of contacts, personal and valuable photographs, videos and documents, the inconvenience and cost of replacement, and the worry of friends and family when they are not able to contact you.

“We put a lot of effort into detailing the impact of the loss of a mobile phone and when multiplied by the number of offences Williams was believed to be committing the judge obviously took a very dim view of his behaviour.”

He said the result came about from the hard work of Pc William Brown from Hackney’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team and Hackney’s Night-time Economy Team, who trawled through many hours of CCTV footage, and visited many establishments to prove the extent of his offences.

“They slowly and steadily built a case against him, all the time adding new offences as they came to light,” said Ch Insp Simpkins, who went on to urge everyone to take simple steps to deter any thieves.

“Keep phones and wallets in pockets at the front of your body and ensure handbags are kept zipped up,” he said.

“Never leave your mobile phone or laptop on a table unattended.”