Call 999 - there's been a theft from The Bill

They may be the country's best known police officers on prime time television. But in real life they're just a bunch of absent-minded luvvies.

The cast of The Bill are using their right to silence over one of their number having his belongings stolen. ITV and the actors involved have kept the incident quiet for several days, as it was felt it might not be in keeping with the image of the series' stars to be known to have had their possessions taken from under their noses.

It is particularly awkward as the actor involved, Billy Murray, who plays DS Beech, did not exactly follow the crime prevention code. He put his belongings - including a jacket, cash and a camcorder - in a bin- liner and stuck the bag under a table at a crowded party.

The theft occurred when several of the cast of the ITV drama series went into the VIP marquee at The Who/Bob Dylan concert in Hyde Park to drink champagne with Virginia Bottomley, Mick Jagger and others. Mr Murray, who was accompanied by his family, placed his belongings into a black plastic bin-liner and put the bag under a table. Whether it was stolen or simply thrown away by a cleaner is unclear, but he has reported it to the real police as a suspected theft.

A spokesman at The Bill's Thames Television production unit said: "Billy Murray ... did have his bag stolen. The members of the cast were there as private individuals. What happened doesn't have any bearing on the programme."

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