CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Police say public must do more to help stop moped phone snatches

'What we have got to do is take these bikes away from the criminals and put them back on their feet like they used to be'

02 June, 2017 — By William McLennan

Superintendent Mark Payne

POLICE have said the public must do more to tackle the rise in moped crime as new figures reveal that an average of four mobile phones are snatched across Camden every day. Senior officers in charge of leading the fightback against “moped-enabled snatches” have said that they cannot “arrest our way out of it” and instead called for people to take better care of their phones and mopeds.

Scotland Yard released new figures on Wednesday that show 649 “powered two-wheelers” – including motorbikes and mopeds – were stolen in Camden in the past 12 months and were then used to commit 1,680 other offences. The majority of these crimes were mobile phone snatches.

Superintendent Mark Payne told the New Journal that the key to tackling the surge was stopping thieves getting their hands on mopeds. He said that only 10 per cent of moped owners used locks to secure the wheels. “This is as easy to steal as a push-bike and yet nobody puts a lock on it,” added Supt Payne. “They are fast, capable machines and are difficult for us to deal with. What we have got to do is take these bikes away from the criminals and put them back on their feet like they used to be.”

He said thieves can break in-built handlebar locks within 30 seconds by sharply twisting from side to side and then push the bike away. Operation Attrition was launched in May 2015 to tackle the rise in the crime in Camden and Islington and has made 700 arrests in the past 12 months. High-speed pursuits of mopeds have proven a controversial issue after several accidents and officers’ ability to chase suspects is limited by the inherent risk to members of the public, the suspects and themselves.

Supt Payne said: “The Met police pursues all criminals. Just because we are not riding around in fast cars behind them doesn’t mean we are not pursuing the criminal. We use DNA, if we have got their face we do facial recognition. It may well be that we break off a pursuit because we think we have the evidence, we know who you are and there’s no point taking that pursuit any further today. We’ll go and bang on your door at 2am tomorrow when we know we can get you in bed.”

Last month Detective Chief Inspector Steve Heatley said members of the public can help by dialling 999 to report suspicious behaviour and even photographing suspects, which has recently led to several arrests. He also said people should take more care while using their phones on the street.

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