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'Aggressive' female beggar tries to steal Cote Brasserie diner's phone

An intimidating female beggar brazenly tried to steal a phone from under its owner's nose in Bishop's Stortford restaurant Côte Brasserie.

Tanya Filer, a freelance social media consultant, was having a meeting with one of her clients in the North Street eatery at around 3.45pm on Tuesday (May 28) when she was targeted by the woman.

Tanya Filer was targeted by the would-be thief while she was in Côte Brasserie (11385869)
Tanya Filer was targeted by the would-be thief while she was in Côte Brasserie (11385869)

"A beggar woman came in, waving an A4 sheet of paper," said Tanya, 42. "She walked straight in the restaurant. She was really brazen in the way she came to us."

The woman grunted in a heavy foreign accent "£1, £1, £1," at Tanya and her client and shoved the piece of paper – which contained nonsense words and symbols – in front of them.

Tanya tried to turn the woman away, but she was aggressive and persistent. "She was pretty bold in her approach, she wasn't going to give up without a fight," said Tanya.

The woman put her sheet of paper on the table, over Tanya's OnePlus 6T smartphone, and Tanya instantly realised this was a distraction tactic.

In February, the Indie reported on a spate of thefts in the town centre where thieves targeted office and shop workers. They used a sheet of paper, which had writing in a foreign language scrawled across it, to divert their victims' attention to steal their mobile phones.

These crooks targeted Lark Interiors in Florence Walk, HR GO in Northgate End, Zoe Dee Hair and Beauty in Church Street, Epiphany Clothing in South Street and David Lee Estate Agents in High Street.

"She went to pick up my mobile phone," Tanya said. "I grabbed her arm and she dropped my phone."

At this point, the staff in Côte approached the woman and asked her to leave. When she refused, they ushered her out and she walked off, empty-handed, towards Market Square.

"My phone has facial recognition so she never would have been able to use it," Tanya said. "It's my life, my phone – I'd protect it like I'd protect my kids."

The woman appeared to be in her late 20s and was heavy set. She was wearing a pair of black tracksuit trousers, a dark T-shirt and jumper, a denim jacket and a scarf around her dark hair. "It's something people need to be aware of," Tanya said.

The same afternoon, a woman tried to target customers in South Street Pantry but staff at the cafe firmly told her to leave.

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