Phone thieves targeting young professionals in Islington
- Credit: EMPICS Entertainment
A spate of phone snatches in the borough has lead police to re-issue warnings over a crime that has plagued Islington for five years.
Gangs of youths on bicycles and mopeds are once again terrorising hotspots such as Highbury, Angel and Old Street, where large crowds of those living and working in the borough congregate.
The recent spate comes after figures at the end of last year showed smart phone snatches were down by more than a third from 2013 when the borough was in the grip of a phone crime epidemic which saw 34 phones stolen in two days.
However, an incident in which a mother was punched in the face by a hooded phone thief while walking along the New River last month brought the problem to the forefront again.
Cllr Paul Convery, Islington Council’s executive member for community safety, said: “After a really big drop in these sorts of thefts it’s started to go up again.
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“We’re not exactly sure why it’s on the rise, but we know why it fell before.
“The police in the latter part of last year were very aggressive disrupting groups of young lads using bikes and mopeds to snatch phones.
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“There was also a big campaign to make people on our streets a lot more vigilant, advising them about being careful with their phones.
Cllr Convery said one reason for the rise in phone snatches could be the “extremely high” resale value of the new iPhone, but he also said that a relaxation of the awareness campaign could have also fuelled the increase in thefts.
“These are opportunistic offences and if the opportunities increase the chances are the number of offences will go up.
“There are the places where most people tend to congregate and where the recent snatches have been happening – more people work in Islington than live in Islington.
“The spots of employment where younger people arrive to work, they are the most lucrative for criminals looking to commit these types of offence.”
Islington police said they were working in partnership with colleagues in Camden and conducting patrols to prevent offending and detect those responsible.