50 phone snatches a week by moped riders in Islington, police warn as new op launches at Angel Tube
PUBLISHED: 14:48 06 June 2016 | UPDATED: 17:20 03 August 2017
Brazen criminals who use bikes and mopeds to snatch mobile phones out of their owners’ hands within seconds could be raking in as much as £5,000 a week in Islington alone.
A four-week campaign launched today outside Angel Tube to raise awareness of the crime in Camden and Islington, which have seen some of the highest levels of the offence in London.
Potential victims are being urged not to text while walking around “risky areas” outside train stations, and to stand away from the roadside close to a wall when using their phones so thieves cannot catch them unawares.
While more police attention to the crime has pushed figures down in the last year, there are still about 50 incidents a week in Islington.
Det Ch Insp Steve Heatley spoke to the Gazette at the launch of the initiative today. Police say Angel is a hotspot for crime as so many people congregate outside and use their smartphones.
"The thieves are brazen and will ride up on the pavement. It happens so quickly – within five seconds that phone is gone."
He said: “The thieves are brazen and will ride up on the pavement. It happens so quickly – within five seconds that phone is gone.
“Obviously if the thieves are on a bike or a pushbike, they’re a long way up the road before the victim realises.”
He continued: “Thankfully most of the incidents aren’t serious with people getting badly injured, but it’s serious to the victim.
“If you have been brushed past and had your phone taken you are shaken, you have been a victim of crime. You feel aggrieved.
“But on top of that most people’s phones have a lot of information on them like photos, which are sentimental.
“I spoke to a guy the other week who had all his business contacts on there, so he couldn’t work for several days. This is what we want to try and stop.”
Temporary chalk street graffiti will be painted on pavements around Camden and Islington. There will also be ads in Underground stations and a targeted social media campaign to raise awareness.
Criminals will usually sell the phones on to stolen goods handlers, police say, and they can be passed on to Africa, Europe or China, or broken down for spare parts.
Det Ch Insp Heatley said: “I would say most suspects are getting about £80 to £100 a phone. This is the battle: as soon as we take out one person who receives them, another person will step in. It’s like a revolving circle.”
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