James Lawton: I was mugged... next thing I know my flat is full of armed police

 

Kiev

As muggings go, it was more adroit than violent, an arm dropping over the shoulder, a sharp push and then a successful lunge into a back pocket containing some cash. When the mugger flew, a large and quite elderly Ukrainian first threw his brief case, then attempted to grapple him down.

It was a brave performance from a fellow citizen of the world in an incident which is commonplace in every big city street. If you travel a little you tend to risk mugging, and this was hardly a maiden experience. They have come in Barcelona and London and New Orleans over the years but what was most remarkable about this one on a bright midday in a broad and well-peopled city-centre street at the start of the European Championship being hosted by the Ukraine and Poland was some astonishing after-care.

Within 15 minutes of reporting the crime to the city police, my rented apartment was filled with detectives, uniformed police, special police, a paramedic concerned that I had been hurt (I hadn't) and several officers armed with automatic weaponry with lapels that said in English "alert team" and at least one photographer.

I had to give a detailed account of my activities from the moment I cashed some US dollars at a nearby supermarket exchange desk, made some purchases (a bottle of milk, which turned out to be yoghurt apparently excellent for settling the stomach but not for coffee, a packet of biscuits, bananas and some mineral water), a stroll for some lunch at a café just a few hundred metres from the apartment, and a walk to some drastically delayed work.

One police offer assured that the culprit would be tracked down and in the morning I have to go round to the central police station, perhaps to inspect an identify parade.

If there is a lesson it is maybe the one about the need to be alert, not be lulled into complacency by the time and the pleasantness of the day. One theory is that my assailant witnessed the transaction at the cash desk, noted where I had casually put my money and then waited for his chance.

Maybe that was foolish and so I probably have no-one to blame but myself. Muggers and pickpockets come to big events and the warnings used to be one of the charms of a big race or a big fight. Yesterday a little of that colour had worn off – at least until so many different uniforms came so swiftly to the scene of the crime.

Kiev's finest, operating in the glare of a major sports event, are plainly geared to significant response.

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