A notorious gang of elderly fare dodgers have reformed to commit a major fraud on the London transport system by catching the 9.27am Surbiton to Waterloo train without paying the before 9.30am supplement.
The fare dodgers range in age from 61 to 76, and have been responsible for a number of the UK’s biggest public transport frauds.
Ringleader Charlie ‘the Spreadsheet’ Yates, a 76 year old retired accountant from Basingstoke, learnt the fare evasion trade from father Big Mikey Yates and soon mastered the art of getting off at the last unmanned station before a major terminus and walking the rest of the way. As he got older and less able to walk the big distances, Yates pioneered the Clapham Junction ‘switch’ over the 1980s which enabled him to travel 80 miles with only a zone 2 Travelcard.
Yates’ main co-conspirator was Tony Entwistle, a 72 year old engineer known as ‘Guv’nor’, who was the brains behind the notorious 1994 anti-clockwise scam on the Circle Line which has never been fully explained.
Rounding out the gang was ‘Baby Face’ Jim McGuire who exploited his youthful looks and short stature to travel on a child’s ticket till the age of 60, Bert Evans who memorably pulled once off a two tickets for three people scam with the Kray brothers, and Smiling Ted Harris who forgot his wallet from 1980 to 1999 inclusive.
Rumours the gang were planning a ‘dodge’ led to train companies bringing in retired ticket inspector Gavin Foster, a maverick who didn’t strictly follow the rules, but always got results.
Foster said the gang’s history meant a South London strike was inevitable, and his intuition was that the relatively high profile but poorly defended Surbiton Station would be the target.
“I did some plainclothes surveillance and when I saw both the Guv’nor and Smiling Ted Harris I knew my hunch was correct. They seemed to be paying a lot of attention to the station clocks so I knew a twirly scam was on the cards” said Foster.
Foster staked out Surbiton the next day and the 9.19am train came and went without incident. Then the gang arrived obviously planning to target the 9.27am train, a ‘shrewd choice, harder to detect’ according to Foster. Foster tailed the gang to Waterloo and then on the tube to the ‘the Old Growler’ pub in Angel.
“They waited for 45 minutes till the Growler opened and then sat there all day celebrating. They were flashing around their 60+ Oystercards and chanting ‘9.27’ over and over again. They were there so late they missed the last train home and ironically had to order a couple of minicabs” said Foster.
A review of Surbiton CCTV footage showed how the gang pulled off their audacious scam.
“They went there just before the ticket office closed, with Baby Face McGuire asking where the toilet was as a distraction. Evans then sneaked in the office and hid till it closed. The footage then clearly shows Evans letting the Spreadsheet and the Guv’nor in with Smiling Ted on lookout. They then proceeded to adjust all the station clocks forward by 5 minutes. It was a pleasure seeing such pros at work” said Foster.
“Surprisingly though, overlooking one detail cost the gang the biggest fare dodge of the 21st century” said Foster. “The 9.27am Surbiton to Waterloo is almost always late, and unbeknownst to the gang it arrived on the platform at 9.31am. So the gang’s use of their 60+ Oystercards was completely legal.”
Metropolitan police thanked Foster for his efforts and said the only remaining unsolved transport crime was the mysterious murder of two minicab drivers in the early hours of the morning after the failed Surbiton twirly dodge.