Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Be Careful with Your Cards. You Never Knowq Who's Watching; Woman Targeted by Gang in City Bar Sends Warning to Others

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Be Careful with Your Cards. You Never Knowq Who's Watching; Woman Targeted by Gang in City Bar Sends Warning to Others

Article excerpt

Byline: COREENA FORD

IT'S the Diamond Strip at the heart of Britain's Party City - but for one visitor, Newcastle's heady nightlife left her cold.

Targeted by a gang of Lithuanians who were preying on fun-lovers, businesswoman Katherine MacSween was preyed on and fleeced of thousands.

And as thousands of students flock to the city to celebrate Fresher's Week, businesswoman Mrs MacSween issued a stark warning to revellers - keep a close eye on your bank cards and bags.

The mum-of-one, a regional manager for a gas company, had come to Tyneside from Glasgow with colleagues on a work trip, and took the group out for dinner and drinks to mark the end of a successful day.

But the 36-year-old's joy came to a sharp halt the following morning when she discovered someone in the trendy Florita's bar had not only pinched her purse containing cash and debit cards, but they had already swiped PS2,700 from her accounts.

Mrs MacSween was one of several targeted by the gang of Eastern Europeans who, between January and April, stole more than PS20,000 from their marks.

The organised crime group travelled from London to the North East on several occasions to target people in Collingwood Street's busy pubs and clubs.

In a slick operation, they posed as fellow revellers but were secretly watching people entering their PIN numbers while buying drinks on cards, then pick-pocketed them and helped themselves to hundreds of pounds. The gang used the proceeds to enjoy a lavish high life, buying first-class train tickets, designer clothes, iPads and cameras.

However, only one gang member, Egidijus Deniusis, has been caught. He was jailed in July for 10 months at Newcastle Crown Court.

Mrs MacSween, who is married to Ewen and has a three-year-old son, Ruairidh, said the experience has put her off going out and warns others to be on their guard.

"I've not really gone out since it happened - I feel so annoyed with myself," said Mrs Mac-Sween.

"It was only a week night, but it was very busy, with people queuing to get into bars and clubs, and we ended up in Florita's. …

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