Balaclava gangs and motorbike theft rising in the UK

Cities such as Edinburgh have been calling for more police resources to be directed toward balaclava-clad motorcycle gangs, as motorcycle theft increases.

Police, Flashing Lights, Crime Scene, Police Motorcycle, Siren

The situation with Edinburgh has resulted in the Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP, Daniel Johnson, to discuss this issue in Holyrood with the Scottish Parliament.

Across the summer of 2022 the Scottish capital experienced incidents of teenagers wearing balaclavas on electric bikes intimidating, harassing and assaulting members of the public.

Mr. Johnson hosted a summit at the Scottish Parliament on the 28th of November to the discuss the motorcycle crime. Both balaclava gangs and thefts of motorcycles in Edinburgh were discussed. 

Mr. Johnson said: "Motorcycle theft and motorcycle-enabled crime is a growing problem in our capital city. It’s crucial that we treat this issue seriously and put a coordinated system in place that helps tackle it.

"I was particularly concerned that we saw thefts of motorcycles, especially tourists’, and also the use of these e-bikes in ways a lot of people found worrying and intimidating."

One of the incidents to have occurred in Edinburgh involving these types of gangs involved a man being hit on the back of the head by a young person on an electric dirt bike, while travelling with eight other individuals who were wearing balaclavas.

Mr Johnson continued, saying: “We can’t have people riding unregistered vehicles, whether they own them or they’ve been stolen, on our streets. 
“The police need appropriate levels of resourcing so they can have officers who are trained and equipped to apprehend these people.

“They are absolutely right to only want to do that when it’s safe but at the same time they need both the people and the appropriate training and equipment in order to tackle that.”

As well as violence occurring from motorbike riding youths Edinburgh also saw a lot of motorbike thefts across the summer. The police claim to have recovered 131 stolen motorcycles which valued up to more than £600,000.

Mr Johnson also addressed this issue: “In terms of the theft of motorcycles, there’s a real risk of reputational damage. 

“If tourists think Edinburgh is somewhere that’s not safe to come if you’re on a motorbike that’s bad, especially when Edinburgh is potentially a great gateway for people coming here to tour Scotland on motorbikes.”

This issue is not only relevant in Edinburgh but also in England, as the Northumbria Police are targeting electric motorbikes. Electric powered motorbikes are being used for anti-social behaviour and have been referred to as “silent assassins”.

Officers in Northumbria have been told to seize the electric motorbikes if they are being used illegally.

Sgt Lloyd from Northumbria police said: "We're not hearing them but they're still causing the same level of disorder, they're fleeing along the streets and just missing people, they're riding the wrong way up roads and are still tearing the grass up, they're causing the same issues [as off-road motorbikes] but we're not getting as many reports in about them. However, they're just as bad."

The law around e-scooters is under review and currently only scooters rented as part of government trials can be used on public land.

Bike Battle!! Honda XL750 Transalp vs Suzuki V-Strom 800DE

Bike Battle!! Honda XL750 Transalp vs Suzuki V-Strom 800DE