Shock at people’s response to ‘suspect bag’
A SHOPPER was left ‘dumbstruck’ after passersby failed to notice a ‘suspect package’ left unattended on a bench in the middle of the High Street.
Darren Thomas, from Claygate, was shopping in Cobham on Saturday morning, when he spotted the large, army print rucksack propped up against the bench.
Mr Thomas said: “I asked the people in the two shops opposite if they knew whose it was and how long it had been there and they were very nonchalant and not at all bothered.
“I called 999 and spoke to an operator for Surrey Police, who was very helpful and immediately dispatched it as a priority call, and stayed on the phone until a police car arrived... 25 minutes later.
“Given the response time, I really hoped it wasn’t something serious.”
When the officer eventually arrived on scene, Mr Thomas, who works as a security chauffeur, called him over to where the rucksack was.
He said: “[The officer] came over, looked around [the bag], leaned over it, then opened it! If I’d known he was going to do that I’d have stayed behind the pillar box opposite.
“There appeared to be no wires protruding or no noise coming from it, so it might not have been something, but that’s not something you know for definite.
“I am positive that [response] would not have been the case if it were in London.”
Mr Thomas’ main cause for concern regarding the whole incident was the response – or lack of it – from members of the public.
He said: “What shocked and angered me the most was the nonchalance of everyone else.
“About 200 people walked past, families with kids, they didn’t even notice it. They were completely oblivious.
“One person double took on a bike, then rode off. The officer on the phone said not one other call came in about the bag.
“We’re supposed to be on heightened alert, and we’re always told to call the police if we see something suspect, and not to touch them.
“The public are told to be vigilant, though everyone just carried on about their business oblivious to the potential threat.
“There’s certain things we can do to prevent these sorts of incidents from happening.
“Obviously I’m glad it turned out to be nothing, though what could have been a horrific attack would have been facilitated by an unaware public. The officer who arrived on the scene said I did the right thing.”
A post on Elmbridge Police’s Twitter account read: “We received reports this morning of a suspicious package in Cobham High Street. This was an empty backpack, now recovered as lost property.”