Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Vigilante Patrols Set Up to Beat Pimlico Prowlers

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Vigilante Patrols Set Up to Beat Pimlico Prowlers

Article excerpt

Byline: Justin Davenport and Benedict Moore-Bridger

WOMEN in a wealthy part of central London are being targeted at knifepoint by gangs of robbers as they walk home after dark.

Resident are now mounting vigilante patrols after the spate of violent attacks by muggers dubbed the "Pimlico prowlers".

Eight women have been attacked in Pimlico and Belgravia in the past three weeks and two men are also said to have been mugged.

The robbers, operating in gangs of up to four, have stolen jewellery including rings and two Rolex watches.

Police say they are not yet linking the attacks but residents are so alarmed they are organising local groups of men to mount night-time patrols.

One area is also considering hiring private security guards.

Consultant Mike Thomas, 63, said men in the area were taking matters into their own hands.

He said: "I and a neighbour went out last night with a big stick and a torch -- but we didn't find any trouble.

"We are here to chaperone whoever needs it and I should think we'll carry on until it's safe again."

Andrea Smith, 51, has been spearheading a campaign to raise awareness about the alarming rise in attacks.

She said: "They are clearly targeting this area. Everyone is worried for their safety, especially for women coming home after work.

"This is normally a very peaceful and safe area, but over the last three weeks we have had at least 12 muggings, mostly at knifepoint, at nightfall and mostly against single women.

"Apart from one flyer from the police about just one mugging, we have heard nothing."

Trish Thomas, 52, said: "I have a 27-year-old daughter who is a student living at home and I would much rather pick her up in the car from the Tube station than have her walk, even though it is just yards away."

In the last attack, on Monday, a woman was knocked down a flight of steps.

Police say the latest attacks started on November 16. Some of the muggers have escaped by car or on mopeds, while others have approached victims on foot.

In one attack, a woman pleaded with muggers not to take her wedding or engagement rings as her husband had just died -- and they relented. …

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