A nimble-fingered thief was caught on camera distracting a hotel concierge – before stealing his mobile from right under his nose.
The thief distracted the worker with a piece of paper and, while asking for his advice, took his phone from the counter top.
City of London Police say ‘distraction thefts’ are on the increase, and are urging people to be more wary.
Magdalena Stanescu, 38, was jailed last month for striking up a conversation in a coffee shop and stealing the victim’s phone.
The thief sat beside her victim and dropped her scarf on top of a phone, before casually walking off with both items in hand.
Stanescu was jailed for eight weeks at City of London Magistrates Court three days after her arrest.
Detective Inspector Mark Forster of the City of London Police’s Criminal Investigation Department called for “greater vigilance”.
He said: “Despite our efforts to help reduce the number of distraction thefts in the City in February 2019, people still need to remain alert and vigilant.
“It is much easier to lift a small item from a table without the owner realising, such as a mobile phone, than it is to steal a whole bag.
“Stanescu’s jail sentence shows that we have zero tolerance towards theft in the City and we will do everything in our power to bring those responsible to justice.”
City of London Police has issued a warning after almost 30 similar incidents in January – with thieves distracting their victims.
There was a spike in January with 28, more than double the number of incidents in both November and December last year.
The force reported a 36 per cent decrease in ‘distraction thefts’ after Stanescu was arrested, but claim the risk still stands.
Figures suggest thieves are hitting up pubs and restaurants in central London, and are most likely to operate at the weekends.
Victims are usually asked for directions, money, or asked to read a note on their table, before thieves slide away their valuables.