'Yiddish' men attack and rob pensioner

Two Yiddish-speaking men armed with a hammer were being hunted by police in North-East London this week after they attacked and robbed an elderly money-changer in his home.

The men were dressed in traditional Charedi garb and the attack has left the community shocked.

Detective Constable Joan Martin, of Hackney Robbery Squad, said: “This was a vicious attack on an elderly gentleman and we are keen to ensure these individuals are caught as soon as possible. ”

Police said the men knocked on the 77-year-old money-changer’s door at 8.30 on the morning of May 14. The Russian-born pensioner, who spoke very little English, was alone in the house and asked what they wanted. One of the men replied, in what was later described by police as “broken” Yiddish, that he wanted to change dollars into pounds.

Having heard the man speaking Yiddish, the money-changer opened his front door and the men followed him into the house.

One man took out a wad of dollar bills as if to change them, but then produced the hammer.

He demanded to know where the safe was and hit the pensioner on the head with the hammer. The man said he had no safe, so the men tied him and searched the house. Eventually they found some money, thought to be around £240, in a drawer and then left.

The pensioner managed to free himself a short time later but did not raise the alarm.

His son-in-law called at lunchtime and contacted police after he discovered what had happened. The money-changer was taken to Homerton Hospital, where he had a number of stitches to his head.

The men were described as about 6ft tall, approximately 40 and wearing black jackets, black shoes and white shirts. The suspect who spoke was wearing a black felt hat, while the second, silent, suspect, was described by one witness as wearing a skull cap but by another as wearing a black felt hat. One of the two was described as “unshaven”.

Moshe Friedlander, a community representative on the Hackney police Independent Advisory Group, said: “I would like to stress again that if people are dealing in currency or with money, they must check the credentials of visitors before they let them in.”

Anyone with information should call Det Con Martin in the robbery squad at Shoreditch police station on 0207 275 3635 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    Last updated: 10:49am, May 29 2008