A pickpocket who was caught stealing a purse from a passenger’s bag on a train has been jailed following a British Transport Police investigation.
Two days after the offence Wayne Woodburn, aged 44, of Orchard Road, Arnside, Cumbria stole from the cash register of a train buffet carriage and was apprehended by an off duty police officer travelling on the service.
Woodburn, who pleaded guilty to both offences, was sentenced at Kendal Magistrates Court on Monday, August 1.
The court heard how on Thursday, July 28, Woodburn was seen to open the bag of a passenger on a train at Windermere, and remove her purse.
A witness reported the incident to the train guard who contacted British Transport Police and held the train. An officer boarded the service and arrested Woodburn.
The purse was recovered nearby and returned to the owner.
Two days later on Saturday, July 30, an off duty Lancashire Constabulary officer travelling on a Virgin trains service from Carlisle to Lancaster responded to a tannoy announcement from the conductor for police to attend the buffet carriage.
It emerged that the conductor had caught Woodburn red handed taking money from the till in the on board shop. When Woodburn realised he had been seen he threw some of the cash back before attempting to make a run for it when the train reached Lancaster but was arrested and detained at the station.
Woodburn was jailed for 120 days for stealing the purse and 120 days for the theft of cash from the buffet carriage, to run concurrently. He was also sentenced to 160 days for a separate charge of burglary to run consecutively.
PC Adam Heslop from British Transport Police said: “Pickpockets like Woodburn target the unsuspecting passenger, particularly at busy times when people can be easily distracted. Thankfully, in this instance, Woodburn was caught in the act and reported immediately which meant that the victim’s purse could be returned.
“To strike again two days later and steal from a train shop was an audacious move and ultimately helped secure a custodial sentence.
“I would urge all passengers to remain vigilant and keep an eye on their belongings while travelling on the rail network. While most instances of theft are opportunistic, pickpockets will always have their eye on the next target.
“Hopefully Woodburn’s sentence will make him think twice about stealing other people’s property in the future.”
Learn more about the tactics of pickpockets at btp.police.uk/theft/#sthash.pQksjwKl.dpbs
There are a number of steps you can take to keep your property as safe as possible when on the rail network.
Keep purses secure and carry wallets in an inside pocket
Zip up hand and shoulder bags
Carry bags in front of you, with flaps against your body
Keep straps short and bags tucked under your arm
Don’t display jewellery, mobile phones and MP3 players
Don’t show your money - keep it safely in your pocket
Stay alert and aware of what’s going on around you when using your phone in public
Keep your luggage close by and check it regularly
If you think your property has been stolen:
Stay calm and don’t panic. Report it to a member of transport staff or a police officer straight away
Report a theft on the railway or London Underground to British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40 or text 61016
In an emergency, always dial 999.