Islington and Hackney amongst the worst hit areas of moped gang related robberies
Crime involving mopeds and motorbikes has almost tripled in number since June 2016, with Islington and Hackney amongst the worst affected boroughs in London, the Met Police has revealed. The Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said in an official statement that she had been shocked by an almost “extraordinary rise” in moped crime this autumn. The increase has caused the Met to put up posters and signs at stations around the worst-hit boroughs to warn locals and commuters.
Earlier this month, a gang of four males who were arrested in the spring this year, were jailed for carrying out more than 100 robberies in less than three weeks in the City of Westminster. Of the 212 robberies that took place between 18 April and 5 May, 83 were committed by this gang. Figures published by the Met Police show that across all boroughs, culprits are mostly young men aged 14 to 19.
A recent Met report also shows that Islington and Hackney are the most hit boroughs after Westminister, with respectively 4905 and 5164 stolen mobile phones between the 2016 and 2017.
Chiara Fiorillo, a third-year journalism student at City, University of London, witnessed firsthand how two men on a scooter tried to steal the phone out of the hand of a pedestrian. “What scared me was how quickly it happened,” says Chiara. As she was walking down Myddleton Street towards Exmouth Market, Chiara noticed two men coming towards her on a scooter in the opposite direction. Turning around, she saw them trying to snatch the phone from another girl’s hand on the opposite side of the road. “I was a bit scared,” says Chiara. “I was quite close to the girl, so I didn’t know if they were targeting me or her.” “She was ready, so they didn’t manage to steal it.”
Moments later she reached the Co-op on Tysoe Street, where police were treating an earlier attempt at robbery by the same gang. “I think it is easier to attract their attention with your phone out,” says Chiara. “This happens to a lot of people so you have to be careful.”
The ongoing issue of high rates of motorcycle theft in London is a contributing cause to the problem. As a result, Scotland Yard is encouraging people to improve scooter security. An online petition by Riders Against Crime is calling for the Met police and police forces across the country to make motorcycle theft a priority issue. The petition, which has gathered almost 15,000 signatures, calls for a minimum sentence for motorcycle theft to be set in order to deter young people getting involved.
Furthermore, it outlines four key changes to be made, to tackle the problem:
- New vehicles for officers suitable for carrying out road chases
- Giving the police the authority to pursue criminals on stolen bikes without fear of the risk to the criminal
- Installing sufficient anchor points or structures for motorcycle owners to secure their vehicles
- Dedicating a special task force solely to motorcycle-related crime.
This week, the London Met responded to the increase in motorcycle crime, by revealing new tactics to battle the issue. Methods include deploying DNA tagging sprays and remote-controlled spikes, as well as equipping police with slimmer bikes to chase perpetrators. Met Commissioner Dick said the Met had brought “all tactics and specialists together to use every ethical option to put a stop to the rise.”