I remember reading, some years ago, about an experiment where a sports car was placed in a prominent location and stolen. The theory that was being tested was that we are so conditioned to car alarms that brazen theft would not be reported. The people who had arranged the experiment, I forget who it was, brought a lowloader in and lifted the Ferrari. There were no reports of a theft, despite the blazing alarm as the expensive vehicle was removed by an unmarked vehicle. In fact the only interest that the experiment generated was a half-dozen complaints about the alarm.
It would seem that the more brazen crimes can be the easiest to carry out, an air of authority silences most challenges. Today I saw this theory used in practice to devastating effect. At St Pancreas station they have a huge Christmas tree sponsored by Fortnum and Mason, the decoration that they have chosen is hundreds of their world-famous hampers. The hampers are strung all over the tree bedecked in ribbons and bows and are also stacked around the base behind a simple barrier. As I left the metro station this morning I followed a young lady with a rucksack into the main station. When I say that I followed her I mean I was aware of her presence, in that way that you become aware of some people in a crowd.
Having collected my travel documents and headed upstairs I found that my train was ready for boarding so I headed for the gate. A couple of people in front of me I saw the same young lady with the rucksack heading through the barrier to board the same train. As well as the rucksack, which was strapped to her back, she was swinging a Fortnum and Mason hamper. There is no way that she could have visited the store in the time between exiting the metro and reaching the mainline train, in short I shared the journey with a thief. In a mainline London station surrounded by armed police, security cameras and staff this lady had sufficient air of authority to simply pluck a hamper from the stack as if it were her right. If I had a hat on I would have tipped it to her, a master of a craft always demands respect and this was Ms P Panther