Crime & the Law

Operation Venice- London wide police crackdown on scooter crime

Attempted armed robbery of jewellers in New Bond Street by gang on scooters. Image: Met Police

Attempted armed robbery of jewellers in New Bond Street by gang on scooters. Image: Met Police

Police across London have launched a day of action to ‘crack down’ on moped, scooter and motor cycle crime said to have netted £28 million in just one year.

In the last 12 months, there’ve been in excess of 9,900 moped, scooter and motorcycle thefts reported across London.

That’s 27 in London every single day.

The attraction to criminals is that the average scooter or moped is valuable currency in the black market with an average value of around £3,000.

It’s also the means for a speedy getaway or flight from the scene of crime; particularly in busy, urban, built-up areas with traffic restrictions for four wheel vehicles.

Bond Street Raiders

One of the most dramatic examples of scooters being used for robbery is this raid on a jewellery store in New Bond Street 17th March 2014.

The six men on three mopeds rode at speed south from Oxford Street towards the shop, ‘Watches and Jewellery of Bond Street’.

They rammed the door with the moped and struck it with a sledge hammer and an axe.

One of the raiders is suspected of having a handgun.

One of the raiders appears to be holding a handgun style firearm. Image: Met Police

One of the raiders appears to be holding a handgun style firearm. Image: Met Police

Staff inside deployed security shutters and the gang fled on their mopeds.

No property was stolen but several thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused to the premises.

Police are still hunting the raiders.

The investigation is ongoing.

Operation Venice is both crime prevention and reactive.

The Met  and City of London Police have been conducting ‘targeted operations.’

These include mass checks on parked up mopeds, raids on individuals suspected of stealing ‘PTWs’- this is police jargon for powered two wheelers.

The operation responds to a trend for the use of these vehicles in robberies and other crimes.

There’s been an increase in their use for smartphone snatching on from unsuspecting victims crossing the road and walking on pavements.

This footage shows a moped pillion passenger committing a phone robbery outside Lambeth College, Clapham Common South, SW4 on 31st July 2013.

The Met Police say:

As other motor vehicles have become more secure, there has been a significant rise in criminals turning to PTWs for use in committing crime.

 This criminality results in significant financial gain, whether from stripping PTWs for their parts and selling them on, or to use the PTWs to carry out offences such as robbery, burglary, and ‘snatches’ of mobile phones and other devices.

Profile of moped criminals

Courtney Morgan and Walid Hnida

Walid Hnida and  Courtney Morgan, both 19, sentenced last year at Kingston Crown Court for moped crimes. Image: Met Police

Walid Hnida and Courtney Morgan, both 19, sentenced last year at Kingston Crown Court for moped crimes.
Image: Met Police

Morgan and Hnida are two members of a five strong organised criminal network who committed a string of mobile phone ‘snatch’ street robberies on a moped.

They were jailed for ten years and eight months.

The team, who drove a high-powered scooter to steal phones from their victim’s hands and were responsible for a total of 46 crimes all in an 11 day period.

This included stealing the moped they drove.

They targeted people for their smartphones – mainly iPhones, Samsungs and iPads.

There were eight occasions when violence was used.

The pair, with other members of their gang were jailed at Kingston Crown Court on May 28th 2014

Walid Hnida, who’s now 19, received three years and four Courtney Morgan who’s also 19, was imprisoned for two years.

New Intelligence on targeting high value and high powered motorbikes

Intelligence suggests that organised crime groups are targeting new high powered motorbikes which can cost up to £15,000.

They’re broken down into parts and re-sold.

These are usually stolen by being lifted into the back of vans, the cutting of chains, and the forcing and breaking of steering locks to wheel away.

It’s been known for thieves to use ‘the propulsion of another scooter.’

There’s no need to start the engine and they’ll keep the stolen ‘vehicle moving, including driving through red lights, and using pedestrian and cycle paths.’

Detective Superintendent Raffaele D’Orsi who’s leading Operation Venice said:

We are committed to taking every opportunity to divert, disrupt, detect and prosecute those involved in moped, scooter and motor cycle related criminality. This robust and collaborative response will ensure more offenders are brought to justice, and through industry engagement the vehicles are better protected with improved security measures.

Detective Chief Inspector Clinton Blackburn from City of London Police said:

Motorcycles and mopeds stolen are being used to commit crimes including mobile phone snatches, smash and grabs as well as robberies.

Working with partners as well as owners of motorbikes and mopeds we can reduce these crimes and bring the criminals to justice. I would urge anyone that sees someone acting suspiciously around these vehicles to call police immediately on 999.

 Advice for Powered Two Wheeler owners

PTW theft is more concentrated in inner and central London boroughs with Wandsworth being the highest.

The police have the following advice for PTW owners:

• Parking – choose designated parking with a stand and security loop, or if this is not available try areas with lots of people, good lighting and CCTV

• Locks – use more than one lock, focusing on disc locks and chain locks, fitted tight to the bike and through difficult to remove parts

• Time – when leaving your bike for a long period or overnight, lock it to something secure and use a motorbike cover. At home consider using fitted anchors to secure your bike

• Attention – use audible alarms where possible to draw unwanted attention to the thieves

• Marking – choose to mark your bike parts with the vehicle identification number (VIN) number, your postcode or registration number using an ultraviolet marker pen or property marking kit

• Insurance – some companies will offer discounts on your insurance if you invest in certain security measures, so ask before you make your purchase

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