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Moped crime in Camden down 44%, but south Islington still a hotspot, police tell public meeting

PUBLISHED: 08:59 13 June 2018 | UPDATED: 17:17 13 June 2018

An image taken from the phone of one of a moped gang who targeted 103 people across London in a snatch spree. Picture: Met Police/PA Wire

An image taken from the phone of one of a moped gang who targeted 103 people across London in a snatch spree. Picture: Met Police/PA Wire

PA Wire/PA Images

South Islington remains a hotspot for moped crime, and Finsbury Park is a key hub in moving stolen phones out of the country, it was claimed at a public meeting last night.

Over the border, though, moped crimes in Camden have fallen in the past six months. Since January, 878 moped-enabled robberies occured in Islington’s neighbouring borough, a drop of 44 per cent on the same period last year.

Reflecting on the reduction in moped related crimes, Insp Richard Bernes told Camden’s Safer Neighbourhood Board (SNB): “On this occasion we can take credit. We have been knocking people off their bikes and everybody loves it when we see a moped on the floor and someone in cuffs.”

Speaking at a meeting of the SNB in Hampstead, Jan Tucker – chair of the Islington Safer Neighbourhood team for Junction ward – suggested the police should focus on older criminals who she believes are commissioning the youngsters.

She said: “There is a hierarchy paying them to nick these phones and they’re out of the country in barrels within days.

“It’s a horrific crime in London and it’s getting dangerous – somebody is going to die trying to help because everybody has had enough and you’re now getting people being vigilantes.”

Ms Tucker also made the claim about Finsbury Park’s role in smuggling stolen goods.

Det Supt Caroline Haines from Camden Police claimed busy areas like Euston Road, Tottenham Court Road and Grays Inn Road, record consistently high levels of scooter snatching. She added that Swiss Cottage and Camden was also becoming hotspots.

Det Supt Haines attributed this in part to large student communities and night time economies in the these areas.

Mr Walker said: “It’s not that they target the weak and the vulnerable – they are targeting the distracted for valuable mobile phones.

“The iPhone 10 is probably the holy grail for the thieves. If it is an iPhone 6 they will throw it back.

“It can happen to anyone and it doesn’t matter how big and strong you are. If you hear that buzz of an engine look around and you can avoid being a victim.”

Multiple people asked how many of the 878 moped robberies had converted to convictions.

But Det Supt Haines said: “This core group of offenders are young, almost exclusively under the age of 18, some as young as 12.

“We have some criminal justice problems with charging these young people but I am working hard to make sure they are not let off.”

One man added: “The crime started four or five years ago, around the time the police station [closed] down.”

Another audience member, Mary, who lives in Highgate, said her closest Tesco and Gails have been repeatedly burgled. She added: “We have an emergency in York Rise – all the shops are boarded up.”

And Det Supt Haines admitted: “In this time of shrinking budgets and limited resources it becomes increasingly difficult.”

Have you been affected by moped crime? Tell us your story: gazette.letters@archant.co.uk.

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