Police officer speaks out about Islington’s smash and grab bike raid scourge

Police vans at the scene of the smash and grab robbery in Selfridges, Oxford Street

Police vans at the scene of the smash and grab robbery in Selfridges, Oxford Street - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

A senior detective has spoken out about the scourge of motorbike smash and grab raids rampant among Islington’s young people.

Det Insp Bob Currie, part of the team investigating the notorious burqa-clad sledgehammer Selfridges heist in the summer – for which two Islington men have been jailed – says the high number of cases could be down to Islington’s proximity to the West End.

The Selfridges raid is thought to be at least the 10th high profile smash and grab robbery involving Islington crooks since 2011.

Det Insp Currie said: “I don’t know why it’s a problem in Islington. The close proximity of the borough to the West End makes it easier for them to carry out smash-and-grab raids and get away.

“The difference when suspects are on motorbikes is that it can endanger the safety of the public, because they ride on pedestrianised areas to get away from police cars in pursuit, which puts people in danger.

“It is also much harder for us chasing them – it makes it more difficult to catch them.”

Other high profile smash and grabs by Islington youths include a motorbike gang convicted of targeting a series of luxury West End shops, like the Apple store in Regent Street, and a raid by three men who made off with a motorbike load of designer bikinis.

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At the Selfridges raid in June men entered the shop wearing burqas and used sledgehammers to smash their way into glass cabinets before making off on motorbikes with around £1.5million worth of watches.

Two of the men came off their bike – one breaking his leg – and were arrested near the scene.

In July, at Kingston Crown Court, 24-year-old Sam Curtin, of Holloway Road, Archway was sentenced to 13 years and Connor Groake, 19, from Wheelwright Street, Holloway, was given eight years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to rob and aggravated vehicle-taking.

Five other men appeared at Wimbledon Magistrates Court yesterday charged in connection with the offence and a similar raid at a jewellers in Windsor in which almost £200,000 worth of goods was allegedly stolen.

Police from the Flying Squad arrested the men after a series of dawn raids across Islington and Hackney.