Moped-enabled crimes: London police called to 430 a week in past year

Met using range of tactics to deal with more than 20,000 motorised robberies annually

Police in London dealt with an average of more than 430 crimes committed using mopeds per week over the past year, it has emerged in the wake of a series of high-profile muggings in the capital.

However, while the figures represent a sharp increase on the previous 12 months, police said moped crime has been falling steadily since last July and there were significantly fewer instances in the past four months than in the previous four.

In the 12 months to May 2018, there were 22,025 such crimes, or about 423 on average per week, while in the previous 12 months there were 14,699, or about 282 on average per week.

Yet the figures also show that scooter-enabled crime has more than halved in London since it peaked in July last year.

In May, police recorded 1,154 incidents in which a scooter, moped or motorcycle was used to commit a crime, a fall of more than 55% since July 2017 when 2,593 offences were recorded.

The news comes as a woman remains in a critical condition in hospital after she was attacked during a moped robbery in north London on Monday evening. The 24-year-old was punched by the pillion passenger after two men on a moped approached her, stealing her mobile phone and bag.

The same day, comedian Michael McIntyre was robbed by moped thieves armed with hammers as he waited to pick up his children from school. The 42-year-old was forced to hand over a watch during the robbery after the windows of his black Range Rover were smashed with hammers.

The Met has employed a range of new tactics to combat the surge in scooter-enabled crime over recent years, which has exploded from 827 incidents in 2012 to more than 23,000 in 2017.

The police introduced slimline motorcycles that can drive down narrow streets, plus remote-control activated spikes and a fluorescent DNA spray which stays on skin for up to eight weeks in October last year.

A new campaign to encourage drivers to lock, chain and cover their scooters and motorbikes has also been launched. More than 15,000 were stolen last year in London, accounting for about half of all vehicles stolen in the capital.

Since the start of 2018, the Met has recorded a 22.2% reduction in scooter theft, but thousands of motorcycles were still stolen.

Speaking at the police crime committee at City Hall on Wednesday, Met assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt said: “We are prioritising our resources where there is the greatest risk, harm and threat to communities. Moped-enabled crime is a huge priority and we’ve seen significant reductions.”

The recent spike in moped crime has been felt mainly in London, but other areas are not immune. On Tuesday, thieves on mopeds forced a driver from his car at knifepoint on a residential road in Birmingham and stole the Ford Fiesta.

A West Midlands police spokeswoman said: “We were called to an armed robbery on Beechwood Road , Birmingham at around 3pm yesterday afternoon [5 June].

“It is believed a number of people on mopeds, armed with knives, threatened a driver before making off in a stolen Ford Fiesta. Police arrived at the scene within minutes, but the offenders had already fled the scene.”


Patrick Greenfield

The GuardianTramp

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