Thief hypnotized London shopkeeper before robbing store
To the Hops ‘N’ Pops wine merchants, Highgate, north London. It’s September 11 and owner Aftab Haider, 56, is being spoken to by a customer.
The man says his wife needs water. She’s pregnant.
CCTV footage shows the thief tapping Mr Haider on the arm as he passes him and then waiting a few seconds before making a stabbing gesture that leave his victim transfixed. The thief then reaches into Mr Haider’s pocket, stealing his wallet while his mesmerised victim “”remained motionless and unable to resist the robbery taking place”, Scotland Yard said.
The man goes on to touch his “spellbound” victim in a bizarre sequence of moves on his side, back and shoulders, talking all the time as another customer enters the small store.
Unperturbed by the intrusion, the thief makes the shape of a pregnant belly with his hands and continues touching Mr Haider before reaching into his other pocket and taking a bundle of cash from that day’s takings.
It is not until the robber leaves, pushing past the customer, that Mr Haider springs back to life, shouting “Oi! Oi! Excuse me!” and setting off on a futile chase.
Says Mr Haider:
“I’m so upset about what happened. It’s hard to talk about. I want to help stop this happening to other shopkeepers. It was late and I was tired, I’m not sure but it was like I was hypnotised. He said his wife was in trouble and needed someone to help her. While he was touching me he took all the money from my right hand side, which had my float money, and all the money from my left.
“He was touching my stomach saying my wife is pregnant – it’s an old trick of the professionals. I was thinking, what should I give to him? Maybe he wanted water, tonic water? I feel really shocked by it. I thought, why is he touching me? But by that time it was too late.”
Round up the usual suspects…