Old Karateka scares off conman with threats
He's no karate kidder!
A BOGUS electricity official had no idea he was messing with the father of British karate after calling at the home of pensioner Vernon Bell.
What the conman had obviously anticipated would be easy pickings at the 81-year-old's residence in Chobham Road, Stratford, turned out rather differently, writes LARRY FERGUSON.
The crook, with an accomplice stationed at the front door, got the shock of his life when he realised he was dealing with a karate expert, and beat a hasty retreat.
As Mr Bell, the founder of the British Karate-Do Federation in 1957, quite simply put it: "They chose the wrong place."
The father-of-six taught the art actively until 1996 and still teaches by invitation.
The men told Mr Bell, who suffers from cancer, they were from the London Electricity Board and had come to read his meter.
The pensioner said the conman inside his home produced a card with no photograph or signature, which had never been the case when he had asked previous callers for proof of identity.
Mr Bell told the bogus official to wait while he rang the electricity company to check on the men, and in the meantime the conman asked where the meter was.
The crook looked at the meter after it had been pointed out to him and said it was not working properly. The grandfather insisted nothing was wrong with it.
After the would-be thief had a closer look with a stepladder and torch provided by Mr Bell, he repeated his claim and asked to inspect points and plugs in the house.
The martial arts expert, who did judo before taking up karate, told the bogus official he could not come through the house until he produced his identity card once more, and he quickly whipped it out again.
Mr Bell went on: "I grabbed him by the collar. I said 'I want you out of my house now'.
"I said 'look here cock, any more trouble and I'll lay you out clean. I've been a karate man for 50 years."
The casually dressed conman, described as being in his late twenties, started to panic according to the pensioner who had a karate fist pointed at him, and left without fuss.
Mr Bell, who taught at his own club in Upminster, Essex, then called police.