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Police in London considering tougher tactics against scooter criminals

It's about time

LONDON’S Metropolitan Police is considering using tougher tactics against gangs of thieves on mopeds as scooter-enabled robberies in the capital becomes one of the Met’s highest priorities.

Speaking to the Guardian, Chief Superintendent Peter Ayling said the Met is considering chasing suspects with additional covert and marked vehicles.

Chases happen relatively infrequently because the police currently need special permission to pursue these thieves because they may ride recklessly to evade capture, putting themselves and the public in danger of serious injury. However, the Met it is deploying more covert officers in London, both on foot and in unmarked vehicles, with drivers being trained to a high enough standard that they can give chase if approval is granted.

Robberies involving scooters are reaching critical levels, with 11,000 incidents taking place last year. There seems to be an increasing trend for them to become violent as criminals mount the pavement to mow down victims and use weapons including hammers and knives to steal items such as phones, wallets and watches.

Based on recent incidents, the police are becoming more concerned that robbers are becoming more willing to threaten or use violence.

The rise in scooter-enabled crimes, which frequently target mobile phones, are thought to be because thieves are becoming better at bypassing security on stolen phones, making them easier to sell on, or because of the value of spare phone parts.

All the time the gangs are getting away with these crimes, bike theft continues to rise as gangs steal bikes to use for criminal activity. We spoke to Dr Ken German, ex-head of the now disbanded Met police stolen vehicle squad and a man who holds a doctorate in International Vehicle Crime, to find out how motorcycle crime in London can be addressed. Here’s what he said:

‘Half of the reason scooter and motorcycle theft is so high is because the people stealing them aren’t just taking them to break up or sell on, they’re using them for crime. Using a scooter, you can push a motorbike along without its engine running and gang members can easily drive for miles like that.

‘The gangs that are responsible for motorcycle and scooter theft at the moment are organised gangs that deal in all elements of criminal activity. That is, they take part in bike theft, robberies, burglaries, assaults. Getting on top on this problem won’t just mean targeting the theft element, it will mean dealing with the enormous increasing in these robberies and burglaries.

‘If the police also deal with these crimes and get on top of the gangs, I’m sure bike theft will start to decrease.’

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