This weekend, Londoners were alerted of more shocking headlines of the latest incident involving attacks by criminals on mopeds. Throughout London, newspaper billboards displayed alarming images of a helmeted motorcyclist riding pillion whilst wielding a hammer. The sinister-looking images were captured on mobile phones by alarmed witnesses and came accompanied with the headline “Moped Hammer Horror”.
These disturbing headlines reported on an incident that had taken place the previous afternoon in London’s West End. Terrified pedestrians were forced to dive for cover as two scooters brazenly dashed around the area of Great Portland Street where they carried out at least one theft. Such was their audacity that they wildly mounted the pavement before brandishing a hammer and a crowbar to scare off anyone who tried to challenge them.
Despite the shocking nature of these images, criminal attacks in London involving mopeds are rapidly increasing. According to London’s Evening Standard, there has been a 600% surge in moped-related crimes within the last year with an estimated £500,000 worth of goods stolen. It is said that up to 22 robberies a day are being carried out. Statistics from the Metropolitan police indicate a crime epidemic where moped-enabled crime has dramatically risen from 1,053 attacks in 2014 to 7,668 attacks last year.
A large number of these attacks involve drive-by snatches of mobile phones or bags on their unsuspecting victims. Even the son of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was recently mugged for his mobile phone by a thief on a moped as he was walking back to his north London home. Mr Corbyn escaped unharmed in the attack however other victims haven’t been so fortunate.
In February 2016, detectives from Scotland Yard appealed for information following a spate of attacks where women were specifically targeted in some of London’s more affluent residential areas. A number of women, often with young children, were robbed of their handbags and jewellery in broad daylight attacks. In some cases, muggers have violently wrenched rings from the fingers of their victims before making their getaway on a waiting scooter.
Other attacks have involved smash and grab raids on premises such last year’s audacious attempted robbery on the luxury watch store Chronext in London’s Piccadilly. The police received a tip-off regarding the attack and officers were able to swoop and intercept the scooter gang, armed with axes and knives, prior to launching their attack.
This however, was a minor victory for the police in what seems to be an almost impossible battle to win. The perpetrators of these crimes are typically dressed in black, wearing helmets with mirrored visors and riding unregistered motorcycles. Criminals are difficult to identify and their vehicles are extremely difficult to trace. Mopeds are quick, agile, easy to steal and can go places that cars can’t, making them one of the easiest ways to escape without being caught.
Furthermore, despite this crime wave, the police are somewhat reluctant to pursue attackers on mopeds. This stance comes in the aftermath of an incident in 2014 in Islington, north London after an 18 year old teenager died after crashing his moped while being chased by police. Despite the teenager carrying a number of mobile phones and seven bags of skunk cannabis, the officers involved in the chase faced charges of gross misconduct.
Nevertheless, the police have acknowledged that a problem exists with moped related crime and have taken some action. In February of this year, police launched a series of dawn raids on 15 properties across London on suspected moped gangs. City of London police have also joined forces with the Met to launch Operation Attrition to crack down on the criminals. However, with an alleged average of 22 moped robberies per day, the question must be raised regarding whether the police are doing enough.
With the above in mind and recognition that the police can’t be everywhere, aside from hiring bodyguards or employing other forms of personal protection, Intrepid Risk Management are able to offer some simple advice on how to minimise the threat of this type of attack:
- Before leaving your home, carefully plan and prepare your travel arrangements. Ensure that someone knows where you’re going, who you’re with and what time you’ll be home.
- Be constantly aware of personal possessions of significant value, particularly expensive watches and jewellery. If you don’t have to wear something or if you’re travelling alone then leave your valuables at home.
- Be as assertive as you can, walk with confidence and be aware of your surroundings and who is around you.
- Avoid short cuts and dark, isolated areas. Vary your routine and be discreet when handling cash, phones and wearing jewellery in a public place.
- Keep your bags close to you and secured with zips closed. Regularly check your belongings and your pockets.
- Avoid texting or checking your mobile phone whilst walking. If you need to use your phone then stop to do so and consistently be aware of what’s going on around you.
- Refrain from wearing earphones and reducing the use of your senses.
- If you feel uneasy about an individual or situation, trust your instincts and leave the area and head towards a public place such as a shop.
Intrepid Risk Management is a London based security and risk management company specialising in the provision of specialist security and protection services to High Net Worth Individuals, VIP’s and celebrities. For further advice on security matters, visit www.intrepid-risk.com
Photograph courtesy of the Evening Standard