A prolific thief who was responsible for multiple handbag thefts in central and south London has been jailed for 12 months

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Anthony Morris, 53  of Friern Road, Southwark appeared at Croydon Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, 15 December where he pleaded guilty to theft, handling stolen goods and fraud by false representation.

He was sentenced to a total of 12 months’ imprisonment for the offences.

Morris’ convictions are the result of a determined investigation by local officers from the Met’s Central South Basic Command Unit (BCU).

He first came to their attention when he stole a handbag from outside a venue along the South Bank on Thursday, 16 July. Within minutes of the theft, he was captured on CCTV at a shop on Waterloo Road using bank cards from inside the bag to fraudulently purchase mobile phone vouchers.

Morris struck again on Tuesday, 11 August when he stole a handbag from a pub on Upper Ground, SE1. On this occasion he visited two nearby shops in quick succession to make fraudulent purchases using cards obtained during the theft.

Officers were able to use CCTV from the thefts to identify Morris. He was arrested on Saturday, 3 October.

While in custody, his home was searched. Property found during the search allowed officers to link him to three further bag thefts at locations across the centre of London.

Police Sergeant Darren Watson, of the Central South BCU, said: “Bag theft may not seem like the most serious of offences, but it is one that causes huge upset and inconvenience for its victims and the effects go far beyond a loss of property.

“Londoners and those visiting our great city should be able to enjoy themselves without worrying that their belongings will be taken from under their nose.

“I am proud of my officers for the work that went into linking a series of offences to this one repeat offender, in particular the lead officer, PC Sarah Jackson, whose determined efforts helped to remove a prolific thief from the streets of London.”

Morris’ convictions in full are as follows:

– Theft of a handbag on 11.08.20: Six months’ imprisonment;
– Theft of a handbag on 16.08.20: Six months’ imprisonment, to run consecutively;
– Two counts of fraud by false representation on 11.08.20: Four months’ imprisonment, to run concurrently, for each of the two offences;
– Fraud by false representation on 16.08.20: Four months’ imprisonment, to run concurrently;
– Three counts of handling stolen goods on 4.10.20: Four months’ imprisonment, to run concurrently for each of the three offences.

+ The Met is currently running its “look up, look out” social media campaign across London. It is targeted, to reach people when they are in and around areas where there is a higher rate of robbery.

It is aimed at getting people to be more aware of their surrounding and keep valuables that robbers and thieves target – watches, mobile phones and devices, jewellery – out of sight.