Hugger Muggers, The 'Friendly' Pickpockets Return To Manchester City Centre
Greater Manchester police have warned that 'hugger muggers' are targeting drinkers in a spate of 'friendly' muggings in the city's centre.
The crafty pick pockets approach revellers and pretend to hug them, before lifting their wallets and phones.
They were nicknamed 'hugger muggers' by Scotland Yard after a spate of the unique thievery hit London's streets in 2008. Often victims don't often realise their valuables have been lifted, distracted by the mugger's embrace.
In Manchester city centre, there were 11 incidents of 'hugger mugging' in December alone. Police fear the actual number is much higher, as drinkers may not realise they have been targeted. Women as well as men are carrying out the thefts.
Greater Manchester Police have released the above picture to highlight the sly behaviour of the criminals.
Sergeant Sarah O'Driscoll from the City Centre Neighbourhood Policing Team said: "We first started seeing hugger mugging in the City Centre in the summer and the number of incidents increased as we approached Christmas.
"Officers are out in plain clothes every day in the city centre looking out for this type of crime and we work with the local authority to investigate incidents caught on CCTV. We have made a number of arrests but need victims to come forward.
"Victims of this type of crime may not realise that they have been targeted, they may have had a few drinks and think that they have lost their phone or wallet. If you think that this may have happened to you then please contact us so we can bring the offenders to justice."