Visitors to US warned not to resist muggers

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The Independent Online
BRITISH visitors to the United Staes were last night warned by the Foreign Office to offer muggers no resistance as police in Florida said they were closing in on the killers of an Essex postman who refused to hand over cash.

The advice to carry small sums of money to give to robbers and never to face them down was offered following the death of Keith Thompson from Chelmsford, Essex, who was shot by two muggers in Orlando last Saturday.

Describing the advice as 'common sense', the Foreign Office said: 'Better a ruined holiday, than a tragedy like this. The advice the police give is not to resist muggers. People should carry a few dollars which they can hand over. The rest of their money should be in the form of travellers cheques which can be replaced quickly. Tourists should avoid isolated areas of towns and cities they don't know. Muggers are psychologists who study prospective victims' body language. They can spot someone clutching a handbag tightly or a man who keeps patting his wallet.'

Mr Thompson, 42, had just arrived for a three-week fly-drive holiday with Ann Sole, his fiancee, and two friends and was unpacking his car outside the Comfort Inn hotel when two men approached and demanded money. When he resisted, he was shot in the chest and died later.

Last night Deputy Sheriff Carlos Padilla, of Orlando police, said: 'This was senseless and pointless but I can assure you there will be an arrest soon.' He said details relating to the gun that killed Mr Thompson had been witheld and may lead to the muggers.

'We believe we may find them quickly. We have already had a lot of help from people on the streets. The officers have some ideas who might be responsible.' He said a dollars 6,000 (pounds 3,500) reward had been raised by local businessmen and Crime-stoppers organisations.

Miss Sole arrived back in the country yesterday and was described as 'distraught.' Arrangements are still being made for the return of her fiance's body.

There have been several recent attacks on British holidaymakers in the US. In July 1991, Bob Duddle from Preston was shot by a mugger in Atlanta, Georgia, but he survived. Last autumn, Jack and Rose Hayward from Banbury, Oxfordshire, were shot and robbed within minutes of arriving in Miami. They, too, survived. A month later, Steve and Jane Carter from Basildon, Essex, were robbed at gunpoint in their motel room in Florida.