A dancefloor pickpocket who stole a woman’s purse has been jailed – one of a trio of distractions thieves snared by a comprehensive police investigation.
Jamal Bouhali, aged 24, targeted the woman as she enjoyed a night out at a bar in Nottingham city centre – approaching her from behind before dipping into her handbag and stealing her purse.
Bouhali was caught on CCTV sneaking the item into his jacket and quickly making this exit.
He was later filmed again – still wearing the same outfit – using his victim’s bank card to buy cigarettes from a nearby petrol station.
Unsatisfied with just the one act of fraud, he then committed another by buying even more items on the card before its owner realised what had happened and was able to cancel it.
Moments earlier, on the evening of 4 January 2020, he had tried the same trick on a man he had deliberately bumped into on the dancefloor – placing his hands in his back pockets before coming away empty handed.
Bouhali, who pleaded guilty to the offence, appeared at Nottingham Crown Court on Tuesday 1 March, where we was also sentenced for a similar theft in Alfreton Road, Nottingham.
On that occasion, on the evening of Friday 2 October 2020, he befriend a man outside a fish and chip shop before following him up the street and forcibly hugging him – apparently out of affection – stealing his mobile phone.
Bouhali was linked to two other ‘dancing’ thieves who used a similar technique to target revellers in Nottingham city centre.
Abdul Boychaala, 30, and Hussen Ehab, 26, mostly preyed on students and pretended to be drunk as they distracted their targets.
After locking legs and forcing them off balance the pair removed mobile phones from their victims’ pockets and sauntered away from the scene.
In August 2021 they were both jailed for 28 months.
Bouhali, of Portland Square, Arboretum , Nottingham, was linked to the pair when he was seen with them in Liverpool.
He later admitted to a charge of conspiracy to steal and was jailed for a total of 22 months. He had also admitted to three counts of theft, two of fraud and another of conspiracy to steal and was handed concurrent jail sentences for each offence.
Detective Constable Sean Parker, of Nottinghamshire Police, investigated the nightclub theft.
He said: “Bouhali is certainly light on his feet but he was unable to escape the gaze of the CCTV cameras that followed his every dance floor move.
“His offending was utterly brazen and caused significant upset to his victims. I am delighted that he has now been brought to justice and hope he uses his time in jail to reassess the way he has been living his life.”
Detective Constable Richard Evans, who also brought Boychaala and Ehab to justice, said:
“Walking up to somebody in the street and hugging them my seem a poor pickpocketing technique but in reality this kind of heavy, unexpected physical contact is just the kind of distraction technique that has been used by thieves for a very long time.
“Bouhali was part a wider network of thieves who had developed this technique into a very effective criminal tool and I am delighted they have all been brought to justice.”