Police have released CCTV images of a suspect who threatened a central London hotel worker with a 'zombie' knife when he was discovered trying to steal luggage - after helping himself to food and drink left out for guests.
The would be thief left a trail of crumbs that revealed his progress through the upmarket Bayswater hotel after he scattered sandwiches, fruit and broken glass on the floor in the kitchens following his hurried impromptu feast.
He had initially told the reception at the hotel in Prince's Square after entering just before midnight on Thursday, 28 June that he was a guest and given a false name, slipping away while the employee was distracted trying to cross check his computer records.
The shift worker on duty had already had his suspicions aroused by the suspect's disheveled appearance, and when he discovered there was no guest listed by the name presented, he started searching the whole hotel property in a bid to find the man.
Meanwhile, the suspect had managed to find his way to the store room, where guests had left their valuable cases and other luggage for safekeeping, and started ripping his knife into as many bags as possible in a bid to get at the contents.
The shift worker had scoured all five floors of the hotel without success before being alerted by the mess left behind in the kitchens that the suspect must have made his way into the nearby store room, where he caught him red-handed.
A tussle followed between the pair during which the suspect brandished a large serrated knife and shouted 'I will kill you!' before breaking free and forcing his way out of the hotel through a fire exit door.
Hundreds of pounds worth of damage was done to the luggage broken into, but the man appeared to have been interrupted before he could actually steal any of the items.
Detective Constable Kelly Mulder, from Westminster CID who is leading the investigation, said: "We have spent some months trying unsuccessfully to identify this man through our internal channels and now really need the public to help us. Do you recognise this man?
"If so please contact us as soon as possible. He has shown he is prepared to use a high level of aggression and an extremely vicious weapon when challenged.
"The victim, who bravely stood up to this man even though he was on his own, had only just recently come to this country for his studies, and has been left very frightened and distressed. He is now anxious whenever he works alone."
The suspect is described as being a black male, around six ft 2ins tall, of thin build, with a shaved head and dark eyes. He was wearing a black top, light blue jeans, and black trainers, which did not appear to be in good condition.
Anyone with information can call police on 101 quoting reference CAD1764/29thJune or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.