A ‘hugger mugger’ from Lewisham who was caught in the act as he attempted to steal a man's watch has been prosecuted. 

Abderrahim Aouida, 25, of Upper Brockley Road, approached the victim at around 2.40am on Sunday, January 24, 2020, outside McDonald's in Holborn.

He wrapped his leg around the man’s foot in an apparently playful manner, a distraction technique known as ‘hugging mugging’, attempting to steal his expensive watch.  

A police officer on the opposite side of the road immediately recognised the technique and alerted his colleagues nearby, shouting "hugger mugger in front”.

News Shopper: Aoudia was caught in the act on CCTVAoudia was caught in the act on CCTV

Two officers approached Aouida, who tried to flee the scene, but was eventually stopped and searched.

The search uncovered another watch, two banks cards not in his name, a mobile phone and cash in various currencies, as well as cocaine.

Aouida was uncooperative and aggressive, denying the items were stolen, alleging that he had found the bank cards.

Officers spoke with the victim who said Aouida had attempted to steal his Panerai watch, worth around £7,000.

Photographs taken by officers at the scene showed that the clasp on the watch had been unhooked.  

Aoudia pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled Class A drug and was also found guilty of attempted theft from a person and receiving stolen goods.

He was was sentenced to a community order, with the requirement to complete 200 hours of unpaid work within 12 months, and ordered to pay charges to the victim and Crown Prosecution Service at Westminster Magistrates Court on Monday August 16, 2021.

Officers contacted the individual associated with the two bank cards, who disclosed that he had lost his wallet on the same day that Aouida had been arrested.

Detective Constable Philip Wilkes, from the City of London Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID), said: “This result is testament to the excellent work done by our officers on the streets.

"The eagle-eyed observation demonstrated here meant that officers were able to stop the thief in his tracks and gather crucial evidence needed to successfully prosecute Aouida.

“‘Hugger muggers’ prey on people who are alone or intoxicated. It’s easy to get lost in the moment on a late night out, but we urge people to be wary of their surroundings and any strangers who approach them.”

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