Channel 7 reporter Laurel Irving was victim to a brazen theft in London on Tuesday night, after two masked men on bicycles threatened her and her cameraman with a gun, before taking off with a $25,000 camera.
Irving, who’s the European correspondent for the Seven News, was busy filming in London’s Islington Borough when two men wearing balaclavas boldly approached the scene, eying off the expensive piece of equipment managed by Irving’s cameraman, Jimmy.
The popular reporter told Melbourne’s 3AW radio the incident occurred around 10pm in the British capital, shortly after doing a live cross to Sunrise. Irving and her cameraman were preparing to shoot prerecorded footage when she noticed two men lurking nearby.
“I noted that they were wearing balaclavas, which you would think would be a dead giveaway as to their intentions, but I kept working and ignored them and starting talking to the camera and while that was happening one of them walked up to Jimmy my cameraman and started talking to him,” she told the station’s Ross and John.
In what Irving described as an upmarket area surrounded by restaurants and pubs, the reporter, who only stepped into the European correspondent position this year, said she thought they were going to “pick a fight” with him, which in Irving’s words, happens often when out on the road.
“All of a sudden Jimmy took the camera off the tripod which is when I stepped in and said ‘hey, what’s going on?’ and he said ‘no,no stay back Laurel,’ and was giving the camera to the guy in the balaclava,” Irving said.
Confused by what was occurring during what is usually a fairly straight forward shoot and why her loyal cameraman was handing over such an important piece of equipment, Irving said she tried to grab the camera before realising the situation was more dangerous than expected.
“Jimmy said, ‘no,no he’s got a gun,’ so I let go and they took on off on the bike carrying this very expensive, very large camera and we haven’t seen it since,” she explained with a slight chuckle.
With the live cross to Sydney only just finished, producers were able to watch the robbery unfold until the link cut out when the getaway was made. Still shocked by the surprising scene that played before her eyes, the reporter and her colleague were left dumbfounded by what had occurred.
“They didn’t immediately strike me as suspicious, however, Jimmy said he had his eye on them the whole time and he knew what was about to happen, you couldn’t stop it at that point,” she admitted.
“We never saw any weapons but Jimmy was convinced that if he didn’t have a gun he would have had a knife.
“The thing that didn’t trigger alarm bells for me was that they were dressed in quite up-market active wear. They weren’t the scuzzy kind of down and outs of the world, they looked more together than that and they were riding mountain bikes.”
Now left to manage with one less camera, Irving said although police believe they will catch the thieves, with CCTV in the area and a fuzzy photo the reporter herself managed to take of the balaclava faced men on their getaway, the camera itself is long gone.
“You gotta let it go unfortunately, but it was infuriating because we still had work to do,” she said.
Irving has been with Network Seven for around 10 years and was previously based in Melbourne.
She has reported on many major issues over her time and more recently covered the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.