CamdenNewJournal

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‘Terrifying’ laptop snatch at café by moped gang

Moped crime wave: Is merger a factor?

10 November, 2017 — By William McLennan

CUSTOMERS at a café in Highgate were subjected to a “terrifying” ordeal as masked raiders on mopeds smashed a window and stole a laptop.

The “brazen” attack saw two suspects wearing motorcycle helmets shatter a window at Gail’s Bakery in Highgate High Street using a hammer, before snatching the computer and screeching off on a moped. The attack at around 2.45pm on Monday was the latest in a string of violent crimes involving mopeds which has been described as “escalating in violence and brazenness”.

Gail’s chief executive Tom Molnar said: “This is a police matter and we will support them as they focus on the local area, which has seen other businesses targeted recently, too.” He said that staff had “worked to protect and comfort customers that were present and while a personal item was stolen, all left the bakery safely,” adding: “We are proud of how our team have handled themselves through this upsetting event.”

Councillor Claire-Louise Leyland, leader of Camden Conservatives who has been vocal on the issue of moped crime, said: “I was contacted by someone who was involved and they said it was absolutely terrifying. They were just sitting having coffee at Gail’s and the next thing they smashed in the window and came and stole laptops. We have to nip this in the bud now. “That is an appalling attack on ordinary people just having coffee. It looks as though it’s escalating in violence and brazenness, we really need to get a grip on this.”

Moped crime wave: Is merger a factor?

POLICE chiefs have been challenged over whether the rising level of moped crime in Camden and Islington can be linked to a move to merge the two boroughs’ forces.

The frequency of “moped-enabled crime” has been increasing since the merger in January. At the time, there were 100 reports a month, but by July the problem had escalated to a peak of 750 a month. Last month there were roughly 650 reported crimes by moped thieves. Camden Conservative leader Claire-Louise Leyland, who organised a public meeting with the police borough commander in September to allow residents to vent their fears over the crime wave, said the figures were “shocking”.

She said: “It makes me ask questions about [the merger] and it makes me want to be reassured that the way police are working in Camden is actually keeping our community safe.” Camden is the worst-hit borough, with Islington in a close second place.

A unit dedicated to tackling the crime, codenamed Operation Attrition, was set up in 2015.

Cllr Leyland said: “It’s so much worse in Camden than it is in other boroughs and we were assured the Operation Attrition would have a positive impact, but actually the statistics don’t seem to bear that out.You would hope to see that they have really got to grips with the problem and are making significant inroads.

Whereas on Twitter and in the streets, people are contacting me every week and they are just increasingly brazen crimes. I’ve had several reports of two mopeds with four people, two on each, chasing down pedestrians on the street.”

However, police have increased the number of officers working to deter moped crime in the two boroughs in recent weeks and believe they are now beginning to win the battle. A team of two sergeants and 12 plainclothes PCs has been loaned from boroughs in south London to assist Op Attrition – a full-time unit with 21 officers. A team of four “advanced pursuit-trained drivers” riding high-powered motorbikes and is “out daily, disrupting this form of criminality, pursuing suspect bikes, reassuring the public, and preventing and detecting crime”.

Last week the Met Police said that alongside the lightweight BMW bikes, officers have been equipped with remotely controlled “stingers” – a concertina of spikes that can be laid across roads with the intention

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