Brave penisoner fights off thief for the second time 171



By Michael MacLeod

A PLUCKY pensioner fought off and chased a thief who stole money from her theatre – for the second time.

When a “skinny” robber burst into Queens Hall on Monday morning, cloakroom supervisor Vera Alexander, 81, thought she was having déjà vu.

He told her the exact same story he’d tried during last year’s Edinburgh festival in a bid to snatch cash from the till.

He shoved tiny Vera against the wall and pocketed a handful of notes.

But brave the brave pensioner shouted, “you’re not having that,” and snatched the money back off him by putting her hand into his shirt.

Only slightly shaken by the ordeal, she spoke  at her home in Edinburgh’s Wardie Avenue of how she was determined to return to work later that night.

She said: “I was angry to be in that situation and recognised him from last year when he tried the same trick.

“He said he wanted to buy tickets for his cousin so I blocked his way but he pushed me and hid the notes in his shirt.

“I shouted “you’re not having that” and stuffed my hand into his shirt to get them back and he ran off.

“It was quite a farce.”

Thanks to her intervention, the Irvine Arditti and Rudiger Lotter violin show continued without any of the audience knowing about the raid.

Vera went home to brush herself down, then returned to her evening job at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre.

A well-known face in the capital’s theatres for the past 60 years, she says it was her love for the Queens Hall that spurred her to fight back.

She added: “It was just my instinct because this was money belonging to the Queen’s Hall.

“I’ve worked for the hall for 29 years and I love it and would have hated to see it robbed.

“I was very surprised to see the same thief again, but my job is to be responsible for that money, so I tried to get it back.”

Had she not been so vigilant, bosses at the Queens Hall say the violin show that was on at the time could have been interrupted.

Adrian Harris, chief executive said: “Vera is well known and loved in Edinburgh’s theatres and we have no qualms employing someone of her age.

“The concert was part of the Edinburgh International Festival, and we think the robber was waiting outside for a quiet moment to pounce.

“But Vera has a great love for the theatre and stuck up for herself to the best of her abilities, as well as give a good description to police, which we really do thank her for.”

Police praised Vera’s “very brave” efforts and appealed for witnesses.

The thief was last seen heading off South Clerk Street towards Montague Street.

He was described as having an Edinburgh accent, skinny, white, with scruffy blonde hair, between 25 and 30-years-old, around 5ft 8”, wearing a long-sleeved blue shirt and dark trousers, carrying a red plastic bag.

A police spokeswoman said: “This woman has acted very bravely in trying to stop the thief getting away with any money.

“Although she was not hurt, the ordeal has left her understandably shaken.

“We would appeal for anyone who was in the area at the time, and who saw what happened, to contact police.”