Welcome to Manchester Confidential
Reset Password
The Confidential websites will be undergoing routine updates. This may cause the sites to go offline. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience.

You are here: Manchester ConfidentialNews.

Phone theft spree in Northern Quarter

Simon Binns on the 'hugging’ muggers who are doing a runner

Written by . Published on November 16th 2010.

Phone theft spree in Northern Quarter

The Northern Quarter has been hit by a spate of mobile phone robberies in recent weeks, according to local residents.

Posters have been put up in several apartment blocks warning people to beware being approached by young men who appear friendly but use it as a diversion to pick their pockets.

Sam Easterby-Smith, who had his iPhone stolen outside The Castle Hotel pub on Oldham Street last night, said several of his friends has been targeted too.

“Two lads came up to me and a mate outside the pub, gave us a high-five and were acting friendly,” he said. “One of them gave me a hug and lifted me off the ground. As they walked off, I realised they had my phone.

“I chased after them and challenged them and they denied it, so I took their picture (which was sent to the Confidential office but can’t be published for legal reasons). Since then, I’ve heard of the same thing happen to a dozen people.

“I have a tracking app on my phone and as of this morning, it was somewhere in the Bolton area. Some of my friends have had the same thing happen to them.”

Jon Grant, a director at Northern Quarter creative agency Cahoona, said his phone was taken while walking down Newton Street at 8pm one night last week.

He reported the incident to the police but was told a lack of resources in the city centre would make it difficult to track down the thieves. Greater Manchester Police plans to close down Bootle Street station in the near future.

“It’s a real problem,” he said. “My phone was taken out of my pocket after a couple of lads approached me and tried to give me a hug. They waved my phone at me and legged it.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to has been approached by a couple of young men, although not always the same pair.

“People need to be aware of it. I suppose the Northern Quarter provides rich pickings as a lot of people have Smart phones.”

Like what you see? Enter your email to sign up for our newsletters which are chock-a-block with more great reviews, news, deals and savings.

33 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Temporary HeroNovember 16th 2010.

The phones can't be that smart if they let themselves get stolen ;)

MTNovember 16th 2010.

"One of them gave me a hug and lifted me off the ground" ....to be fair, if you are going to get mugged, there are worse ways to go about it.

AnonymousNovember 16th 2010.

Well, don't hug a stranger then. The Northern Quarter is not this hippy, happy, bohemian enclave - it's full of uber-trendy PR/Media types with all their shiney new gadgets on show and a magnet for thieves. Frankly, it's a shit hole. Do you seriously expect the police to divert resources to tracking down a phone? I'm surprised that so far, only two people have had their phones nicked - every other person you pass on the street is yapping irrelevent crap on their latest phone, easy for any little scrote to snatch out their hand.

AnonymousNovember 16th 2010.

Hardly a 'spree' is it, two 'phones? Oh I forgot, in less than 24 hours, one of the victims has heard of at least a dozen others. Why do those that frequent the Northern Quarter seem to think they're exempt from muggings/theft etc?

DescartesNovember 16th 2010.

Anon, don't forget that iPhones are £600+ to replace if you don't have insurance (which many people don't). I've owned cars that cost less than that and would fully expect the police to investigate if they were nicked.

Get CarterNovember 16th 2010.

Well either buy insurance, as you would be made to do if it was a car, or don't spend £600 on a toy

SteveJobsNovember 16th 2010.

Journalist in 'my mates on twitter mentioned something so I covered it' shocker. You don't even have to leave the warmth of the office to do such work, lovely. Not said is that Jon was with Sam when the latter's phone was taken, while the story sort of suggests they're totally separate accounts.

No quote from the Police though--especially as one of the phones is being tracked?

AnonymousNovember 16th 2010.

Sorry steve jobs are you saying that the second victim was with the first when he was mugged - and later fell for the same thing?

AnonymousNovember 16th 2010.

Two mates of the writer in mobile phone theft exclusive. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

AnonymousNovember 16th 2010.

What did Sam Easterby-Smith take the photo with? His smart 'phone

HaroldNovember 16th 2010.

Twitter people it's part of the media now. As for mates telling other mates stories, well look up the history of newspapers and it's always been like that. People have to tell you things for them to become issues and thus covered. Can't understand the criticism of the story really.

D KesslerNovember 16th 2010.

newsflash from NY: I can reliably report that this city works without iphones. Throw your overpriced gadgetry in the gutter and look west...

Sam E-SNovember 16th 2010.

Point of order: Jon and I were not together on either occasion. This is neither here nor there.

The point is that there have been numerous petty thefts from around the area and we all need to be vigilant. Techniques vary, it's not just huggers, there have been plenty of "cover-and-snatch" style thefts from cafes and business premises too. Just ask around. All of us boho smartphone-weilding dickheads do indeed make for easy pickings.

The police should be given credit for what was an exemplary response. They attended the scene promptly, took the evidence, statements and everything else. The trouble is there is not an awful lot they can do given that the lads were not known to them, the GPS fix was only accurate to a radius of a few hundred metres (that's a lot of houses) and frankly they have only have so much resource to go round.

How did I take the photo? A friend came with me when I approached the thieves. We used her phone. Not too complicated eh? Thankfully (and yes in hindsight I won't be doing it again) they treated us with a cocky attitude, a smug grin and a nice pose for the camera rather than a stab in the guts.

Yes, be sensible, get insurance, don't go vigilante and (much as I like hugging people) don't accept cuddles from strangers. By being a just a wee bit more security conscious we can reduce these incidents and give GMP a little more slack.


BarbarellaNovember 17th 2010.

Style over substance. Doesn't impress a fit bird like me...

8783November 17th 2010.

Sam Easterby-Smith sounds like someone who will be on the guest list for William and Kates wedding!
Maybe he took David Camerons hug a hoody quote a bit too literally!

JobsNovember 17th 2010.

Just to clarify, previous comments were about the article rather than the events. Basic journalism is that you have to be able to stand up your story, usually with corroborating stories. And those corroborating stories should, ideally, be from independent sources.

In this case, we have two friends and a quote from one about other cases which is just hearsay. We have nothing from the Police or from anyone else to stand up the idea of a 'spate' or a 'spree'. By not revealing that Sam and Jon know each other the journalist is leaving the impression that these two are independent and separate witnesses. Not unlike the similar piece on King Street robberies some time ago, the evidence doesn't stack up for the suggestion made in the headline.

A more interesting (but less tabloidy) story might have been 'geek uses friend's phone to take image of muggers and distribute round twitter'.

Sorry, I'll go back to teaching journalism now.

DibigoNovember 17th 2010.

Don't hug and high five strangers in the street in Manchester... wise up.

AnonymousNovember 17th 2010.

Okay just been sent this article and although you expect the usual trolling on a site like this I think people are forgetting that its pretty crap you can't walk around somewhere without somebody stealing your phone...

To emphasise that my best friend had her phone stolen about 3 weeks ago just near Tib Street car park in a similar distraction, not a hug but bumping into her and when she realised what they were doing they carried on laughing/taunting her even thought she was screaming at them.

She isn't an Apple fanboy, a geek or a mate of Simon Binns. Just a normal person who was so upset she didn't got out for a few days.. not really a funny episode and has made her really paranoid about walking around the city centre.

This isn't the first time I have heard about it around the NQ recently either but regardless whether its here or on Deansgate it's worth reporting so people are more vigilant.

AnonymousNovember 17th 2010.

But is that not the point that some people have made? People are not vigilant; the more gadgets they have on show, the better they feel about themselves. If people were vigilant, they would carry their phone in their bag/briefcase/pocket instead of clinging helplessly onto it like some sort of comfort blanket, talking bollox, texting crap, tweeting or Face Booking, whilst aimlessly dodging the traffic.

Anon TooNovember 17th 2010.

She isn't a mate of Simon Binns? Shocking. He or she should be run out of town for that fact alone.

I thought a journalist's job was to have lots of friends? I believe they call them 'contacts'.

Inverted snobberyNovember 17th 2010.

I think it's pretty poor form from all of the above posters criticising people for being robbed just because they've had smart phones nicked.

Unless every one of you buys all your clothes from Tesco/Primark, wears Casio watches and uses a phone costing, lets say £10 from Casio, and drives a lada you've absolutely no business criticising people for being victims of crime, just because they've got a reasonably (but not hugely) expensive phone.

And as for Man Con running the story, they have evidence of a particular crime being carried out multiple times. Should they not report it just because it came from some mates?

Sometimes I get very depressed about the internet...

Ali McGowanNovember 17th 2010.

Lots of sniping here but how about the main point - the fact that some people have been mugged - never a pleasant experience, hugging or not - and the fact this shouldn't be happening in the first place, but is. Nobody should have to live their life fearing about getting mugged, but until we get tough on crime, sadly it's going to be rich pickings for w*nkers who go out mugging. I for one will carry on using my iPhone, albeit it's best to stay as street wise as tou can. Make sure you report every single crime... even if no direct action comes out of doing it, it's better to report it than not. And as for all the sniping - truly shallow.

BaldrickNovember 17th 2010.

I have a cunning plan: next time you are walking around the Northern Quarter, fill your pockets with dog poo - when the Hugger-Muggers dip into your pockets they will get a nasty surprise, albeit you will have pockets lined with shit afterwards.

AnonymousNovember 17th 2010.

Anon 15:24:38

None of these had anything on show!!! thats the point, they had their phones on their pockets and were pickpocketed.. hardly walking around brandishing any goods is it? read the story again.

isabella16070November 18th 2010.

@Ali MCGowen, they had their pockets picked, they were not 'mugged'. Sadly pick pocketing is a lucrative business in every large city across the world, why is anyone shocked that it happens in the Northern Quarter?

simplesolutions2yourimpossibleproblemsNovember 18th 2010.

i've owned mobile phones since they 1st came out in the 80s and never lost one.
its obvious you guys n gals in the town area have money to burn by flaunting wot u got to all and sundry and thats wot makes you a soft target plus the fact you allow a total starnger to walk right up to you and hug you and even lift you off the ground, i tell if anyone comes that close to me whom i don't recognise gets one in the breadbasket and one round the ear as he's goin down,
also just recently some tart walking past my home on college road whalley range was talking on her iphone and i said to her you wanna be careful around here walking & talking on the fone to which she replies f--k off and mind your own bizz.
thats folk 4u. as i said too much money and not enough sense and its gonna get worse cos its your mob in the northern quarter that stuck cameron in number 10.
as the cops said not enough manpower and thats b4 the cuts. most people on iphones are ar-eholes n tossers anyway and deserve to lose them,its probably the best form of recycling in the northern quarter???? just consider those poor people in china making the iphones and the conditions they have to put up with all for the sake of the iphone owners.

simplesolutions2yourimpossibleproblemsNovember 18th 2010.

update for the northern quarter iphone plonkers get streetwise and watch the real hustle on bbc3, its give a good insight to all the rip offs goin about.
also think about it with all the knife crime about if you let them come that close you may even get a blade in the guts.
if you must make a habit of walking and talking with it on show then you should have ready in your other hand a small spray called TIW, it what security personel use (temporary identification witness)a type of red ink spray.if they come that close you can spray them on the mush and the cops will spot them easily when you report it. otherwise hook up your bluetooth or form a local vigilante group and go on the prowl looking for the fone crims and reward them with your own form of retribution??? thats if you have the bollox for it. or if not do as my other whalley ranger says chuck em in the bin and go without or do it on the cheap.

i-wonderNovember 18th 2010.

I wonder if its actually legal for the police not to investigate a crime that is reported, 'resources' or not? What about duty of care, dereliction of duty and all that? Does it especially not apply for the Police?. Actually, if it did then the government couldn't ever reduce thir funding and in theory would have to indefinitely top thir coffers up as we demand more. (Glad they are too busy to sniff outside my window this eve)

AnonymousNovember 18th 2010.

Of course it's legal. All you need to do is report it, obtain a crime number and that's it. The police don't even bother with minor road accidents anymore because they do not have the resources - having been done by two non-insured drivers in the past, I'll even call the police if someone bumps my bumper

simplesolutions2yourimpossibleproblemsNovember 19th 2010.

the only time the cops are anyway near interested is if you aint got tax on your motor then they turn up in volume with TAU & ARV and india99 and take the car off you. or if you talk down to some scumbag little halfwitt spottyfaced runt cos he's just booted the mirror off your car in the street then you will get arrested cos your the easier target. i just dont bother with the cops anymore i leave them to their tea n cakes and sort the problems myself, its a lot quicker and easier. come back paul kersey all is forgiven.

I-wonderNovember 19th 2010.

Im right with you on that comment 'simplesolutions2yourimpossibleproblems'. someone attempted to mug me one night so I sparked him out. I got arrested. The scrote went home to his bed (or to mug someone milder).

Inverted snobberyNovember 19th 2010.

Simplesolutions2yourproblems, good of you to spare time from calculating launch trajectories or removing frontal lobe tumours to contribute!

AnonymousMarch 12th 2012.

i got mugged, in the northern quarter this saturday just gone. Its wasn't as friendly as the hugging thou, they tripped me up from behind as i was running, phone went flying/wrist got broken...c*nts!

To post this comment, you need to login.Please complete your login information.
Or you can login using Facebook.

Latest Rants

Ashle Kumar

After putting password in our system often we forget it. But don't worry it can be recover by a…

 Read more

Postal services in goverment sector are pretty awesome. Now USPS offering excellent services in…

 Read more

Know your username(which is same as your employee number) Now click this link. And complete your…

 Read more

Link below to an MEN article on future plans for the area.…

 Read more

Explore The Site

© Mark Garner t/a Confidential Direct 2021

Privacy | Careers | Website by: Planet Code | SEO by The eWord