That thief has got a real brass neck

Andrew Harris's medalion was stolen from round his neck
Andrew Harris's medalion was stolen from round his neck
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A NIMBLE thief bombarded a deaf pensioner with cheap rings and a necklace before snatching his prized medallion without him noticing in a bizarre robbery.

The robber, who pounced in Bonnington Road, Leith, had pretended to ask Andrew Harris for directions when she suddenly leant into his car to “thank” him and thrust rings on to his fingers and a fake gold chain around his neck.

Andrew wearing the stolen medalion

Andrew wearing the stolen medalion

The confused 77-year-old, from Mountgrange, tried to reject the jewellery, but the “Romanian-looking” woman walked off and jumped into a nearby car.

It was only after she disappeared that Mr Harris realised she had pickpocketed his chunky gold medallion, which he personally designed 15 years ago, in an Oliver Twist-style robbery. Police said the incident, which happened on Thursday morning, was “highly unusual” and said they had not heard of a similar robbery in the Edinburgh area.

Mr Harris, a retired plumber, said he had been left “devastated” that the £350 medallion had been taken from under his nose.

He said: “I was waiting in the car for my wife, Aida, at the nearby Leith Community Centre, when this woman came up to me and asked where the hospital was.

“I started to point in the right direction when she suddenly leapt forward and put some signet rings on my fingers and a chunky necklace round my neck, saying ‘This is for you, this for you, thank you for your help’. I told her I didn’t wear rings, but she wouldn’t listen.

“I didn’t feel a thing and didn’t notice the medallion wasn’t there until some guys working at the garage across the road came over and asked what she had been doing. Then I felt round my neck and it was gone. Before I could say Jack Robinson, she had jumped in the car and gone off. She was very nimble, very quick, and I expect she was watching me beforehand.

“I’m very shocked. I bought the necklace 15 years ago for £350. I designed it by myself and all of my family have an initial on the medallion, which is shaped like a 50p. I’m devastated. It was special and of great sentimental value.”

The medallion, which is nine-carat gold, contains three As, an L and an E in honour of his children, Eric, Andrew and Linda, himself and his wife.

Mr Harris said: “I’m willing to give a £100 reward to anyone who finds it. The police have warned pawn shops and second-hand shops to be on the alert, but I’d be amazed if she tries to sell it around here.”

Pc Sam Campbell, who is investigating the incident, said she had not come across anything like it and warned residents to be vigilant.

The thief is described as short and plump, with dark skin and short dark curly hair. She got into a Volkswagen Passat, which is thought to have been occupied by up to three other females.

vraimes@edinburghnews.com