I had an interesting interlude the other day while patrolling Eastside. I was keeping an eye on the turning circle end of the high street - a favourite spot for park and runs as its all 02 and can be quite a bit of fun at peak times with all the punters moaning like buggery as all they want to do is use the 'hole in the wall' and cannot understand why they are not allowed to park at all.
An elderly lady came up to me and asked me to phone the police as she was being followed by a 'gang of muggers' who were intent on robbing her. I asked her to describe them and she just told me to look past her to outside of the NatWest bank - there were 3 black guys there acting very oddly so I told the lady I would call the police and suggested she head back to her car and get away while I kept an eye on the 'muggers'. She disappeared around the corner and I move to a position opposite the bank where I called the police using the non emergency number to report what was happening.
After being told that a squad car would be despatched shortly, I made a pretence of booking a car in front of me (his lucky day as I should have booked him properly) and took photos of the 'muggers' while pretending to photograph the car. At this point the driver came back so before he could start on me I explained what was going on - he immediately 'came onboard' so I stuck an empy PCN on his motor to keep up the pretence and he said he would hang around in case there was any trouble. At this point one of the trio took a seat about 30 ft from the bank while the other two positioned themselves either side of the cash machine. I move around a bit and started on another car as an old boy headed for the cash machine. The guy sitting down stood up and headed straight for me as the other two closed in on the old boy who was now using the cash machine.
"Hey, you put a ticket on my car, the green Jag" says the sitter
"Sorry mate, not interested" says I as I head towards the cash machine, making a point of taking a damn good photo of the 'sitter' who tried to get in front of me.
Now the old boy is yelling at the other two guys who are trying to take his money. I speed up, sidestep the sitter and close in on the other two, taking pictures all the time. At the same time the man I'd "booked" started moving in from the other direction. The two erstwhile muggers cottoned on to what was happening, saw me taking photos galore, headed for me, thought better of it and ran off round the corner of the bank, rapidly joined by the 'sitter'. I checked out the old boy then went after the trio who were now about 100yds away and heading for Carlisle Ave. I followed at a distance, talking to the police on the phone and directing them in, as the 3 turned a corner and, for all intents and purposes, just disappeared. I couldn't figure it out at all, they had been out of sight for maybe 10 seconds but there was no sign at all - no car being rapidly driven off, no doors closing, just nothing. My helper now caught up to me, joined by a few Turks (relatives of the old boy apparently) who had been in a car waiting for him and we all started searching, but to no avail.
Some time later a patrol car turned up but by then the trio could have been on Mars. I told the officer I had loads of photos of the trio, described them in fine detail and then just looked in amazement as the whole area suddenly filled with Police, PCSO's and a helicopter. So now I just left them to it and myself and my gang of vigilanties headed back to the bank. One of the Turks asked me if I would print some of the photos for him as their "community" would start a search as well - given a choice between the Police and the Turks I know who I'd put my money on so when I got back to the office I printed out a few copies of each photo, dropped one set off at the local cop shop and headed for one of the many Eastside kebab shops to pass on another set of photos. Apparently I am now some form of Goddess as far as the Turks are concerned as I went out of my way to help them out - just the luck of the draw really. I will be keeping in contact with them as I would like to know how things turn out.
BTW, 2 days later I checked in with the Police who had no leads at all - and also nothing so far from the Turkish side.