A man who used to hunt victims in Fulham to carry out his phone-snatching crime spree was jailed yesterday for a year.
George William O’Hare, 26 (14.01.89) of Cleverly Estate, Wormholt Road, W12 was sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court and banned from carrying more than one mobile phone for five years.
O’Hare had pleaded guilty to five offences of theft from the person at an earlier hearing at the same court.
The court heard how over a 10-day period in February, O’Hare would set out on his bicycle looking for new victims.
O’Hare was staying with a friend at a flat in Fulham and he used this as a base to carry out his crime spree.
The first offence happened on February 16 when a 35-year-old woman using her phone while walking along Holmead Road saw a cyclist go past.
A few moments later the same cyclist approached her from behind, snatched her phone and then sped off. The thief was identified as O’Hare and this was the first in a series of snatches.
On February 19, a 28-year-old woman was walking along Fulham Road, near Chelsea Football stadium. O’Hare cycled up behind her and snatched the phone she was using.
Two days later, O’Hare struck once more on the Fulham Road. This time the victim was a 28-year-old man who had just stopped to send a text message. O’Hare snatched his phone as he was using it. The victim gave chase, but O’Hare managed to speed off on his bicycle.
On February 24, a 24-year-old doctor, was walking along Fulham Road. He was holding his phone, when again O’Hare rode up from behind and snatched it.
The last offence happened on February 26 and again the location was Fulham Road close to Chelsea Football Club. A 36-year-old man was using his phone to check for train times. O’Hare cycled up behind the victim, snatched his phone and pedalled off.
As a result of the crimes, detectives form Hammersmith and Fulham began a detailed investigation. The team studied hours of CCTV and began linking the footage together.
In the footage O’Hare can be clearly seen circling, before selecting his victims. When he identified a possible target he would follow them, looking for the opportunity to strike. The crimes were committed in moments, leaving the victims with little chance to react.
Detectives were able to link enough CCTV to track O’Hare back to the flats he was using as a base for his crimes. CCTV showed him setting off on his bike and returning after the thefts; the images were clear enough for police to identify O’Hare.
Hammersmith and Fulham detectives arrested O’Hare on March 16.
They were able to find the distinctive bike he had used in the course of the thefts and also the clothing he had worn while committing the offences. O’Hare denied the crimes, but one of the victims was able to pick him out at an identity parade.
O’Hare was charged with five counts of theft from the person. In the series of robberies phones with a value of approximately £3,500 were stolen – none of the phones were ever recovered.
PC Marc Kibbey, of Hammersmith & Fulham Crime Squad, said: “The work to bring O’Hare to justice was painstaking. During the course of this investigation I reviewed hours of CCTV and would watch as O’Hare circled, selected and then hunted his victims. This man was a criminal predator and the CCTV images show the calculated nature of his crimes.
“This case also shows how quickly someone can become the victim of crime. I would ask those who are using their phone not to become distracted, you will always be safer if you remain aware of your surroundings.”