A bungling thief has been caught after attempting to steal a laptop bag from a bar packed with off duty police officers celebrating a leaving party.
Mark Jimenez, 46, of Cranberry Road, Fulham took the bag from a table in the Elk Bar in Fulham Broadway in the early evening in January 20.
But as the drug user was sneaking out he was nabbed by one of the 40 off duty police officers at the party, who had seen the thief eyeing his colleagues' bags.
Jimenez attempted to drop the laptop, but when he realised the pub was full of coppers he admitted to the theft and was arrested by uniformed officers.He was taken to Fulham Police station which is just yards from the Elk Bar.
Jimenez, a drug user who is unemployed and receives benefits, admitted his guilt was sentenced to an 18-month community order by West London Magistrates' Court today (March 16). He will have to report to the court's specialist drug rehabilitation team every six weeks and is under a curfew from 7pm to 7am for the next four months.
Sentencing him Magistrate Mrs Jenkins said: "I've taken into account that you pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, but in my understanding you had little choice n that given that you were unlucky enough to steal a bag belonging to a police officer.
"You have had a drug addiction for many many years and it's not going to be easy, but we are all here to see if we can help you with the drugs and alcohol."
Inspector Penny Mills of Fulham Police was at the leaving party when Jimenez struck. She said officers did not used to drink in local pubs but improved relations with the local bars mean they pop in for the occasional off duty pint.
"The message to opportunist thieves like Jimenez is that you never know who might be drinking in the pub you are stealing from," she said.
"He put his hands up an said 'fair cop', which is something suppose. But it goes to show that even police officers are not safe from having their bags stolen in public. People should keep an eye on their bags and that way we will cut crime but stopping opportunists like Mr Jimenez."
Jimenez is now banned from all pubs along Fulham Broadway.