Blind BBC journalist fights off robber who stole his iPhone in central London

BBC correspondent Sean Dilley  (Sean Dilley/Twitter)
BBC correspondent Sean Dilley (Sean Dilley/Twitter)

A blind BBC journalist fought off a thief who snatched his phone in an early morning robbery in central London.

News correspondent Sean Dilley was near BBC’s New Broadcasting House shortly before 6am on Tuesday, when a man on a bike grabbed his iPhone from his hand.

But quick-thinking Mr Dilley “jumped on” his assailant, restraining him and reclaiming his phone.

Sharing a photo on Twitter of his grazed calf following the incident, Mr Dilley wrote: “A man on a bike just SNATCHED and stole my iPhone from my hand.

“Wrong blind person wrong day,” he added. “Jumped on him, safely detained and got my phone back.

“Quite a few cuts and bruises but tweeting on the phone he stole (and I recovered).”

Police were called to the scene in Bolsover Street, W1, at roughly 6am on Tuesday but the robber had fled the scene by the time officers arrived.

Scotland Yard said: “The suspect was briefly detained by the victim and the phone was recovered. The suspect then left the scene in the direction of Greenwell Street prior to the arrival of officers.

“Enquiries are ongoing to locate them.”

Mr Dilley, project lead for the BBC’s Reframing Disability Programme, added on Twitter: “I know it’s a really stupid thing to have done, but I’m so proud of myself.”

Responding to one user who said “I don’t know how on earth you did this without sight”, he said a “very noisy bike, very fast, reflexes and adrenaline” helped while “the out of breath thief made a perfect audio target”.

He said he used “no more than low and reasonable force” to restrain the robber, adding: “It was instinctive, definitely not brave”.

Mobile phone robbery is a growing issue in London, with Metropolitan Police figures showing the crime rose almost 21 per cent in the year to September.

There were 8,972 robberies of mobile phones — equivalent to 24 a day — in the 12 months to September, compared with 7,423 in 2021. Only 625 devices were recovered.

In October, city broker Henry Charlton-Weedy, 35, was left needing 52 stitches to his face after he and two others were slashed by balaclava-clad thugs as they tried to stop a phone robbery in Bishopsgate.

Anyone with information about what happened to Mr Dilley, or who saw any suspicious activity in the area at around the time of Tuesday’s incident, is asked to call 101 quoting CAD 1115/27Dec.