What’s the crime?
The scourge of inner-city crime, alongside knife crime, is currently the epidemic of scooter crime gangs terrorising residents. These young hooligans take full advantage of the flexibility and anonymity of small, agile scooters to get to and from their chosen crime scene. With motorcycle helmets offering them protection and concealing their faces, often on stolen mopeds / scooters from delivery companies and utilising weapons ranging from knives to household items such as hammers and bats they pose a considerable threat.
The above image first appeared in the London Evening Standard newspaper and highlights a gang of teenage criminals who were responsible for 103 offences in just 18 days. Fortunately, these boys are off the streets and awaiting sentencing at Southwark Crown Court thanks to the hard work of the Metropolitan Police in tracking them down, but there is still a significant rise in this type of crime particularly in London and other big cities. Met figures show moped-enabled crime has risen sevenfold in two years, from 1,053 in 2014 to 7,668 last year.
Moped or scooter gangs will often ride “two up” so that the main offender is the pillion rider leaving the second person to concentrate on getaway driving. They will frequently conduct raids with more than one moped pair to make themselves more intimidating and create confusion and panic amongst their terrified victims. Mopeds are often stolen from delivery drivers and used for “smash and grab” raids on retail stores, particularly jewellery shops, or swift and violent muggings where the rider mounts the curb and the pillion criminal intimidates or violently snatches goods from a victim. Favourite items for thieves are mobile phones, handbags and watches.
How to avoid being a victim.
The epidemic is a difficult one to tackle and it is hard to prosecute criminals due to the difficulty in securing evidence but that doesn’t mean that nothing can be done. Here’s our advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of moped gangs.
- Situational Awareness – How often have you walked along the pavement with your head down, hood up, earphones on and all concentration on your phone screen? This lack of basic situational awareness is the single largest factor helping the criminals snatch your belongings. When transiting from one location to another it is important that all of your senses are free to engage properly in their surroundings. This isn’t just for a moped crime but for all situations including road safety and personal injury due to not watching where you’re going. Take your hood down, having it up restricts your peripheral vision, putting your phone in your pocket and having your head up increases awareness as you are actually looking where you are going. Earphones out or you have lost all sense of hearing what is going on around you. That means you are going to miss the sound of engines behind you or warning shouts by other members of the public. Put your phone away it is not necessary to have your phone out tapping away on the screen while you are walking. Invest in a hands-free kit in order to make those important phone calls on the move, but if it can wait to avoid even that. Scrolling through social media, texts and emails while attempting to navigate the busy roads of a large city centre takes away most of your attention and you are less likely to see a threat until it is too late.
- Watch for mopeds – Especially with pillion passengers or those that are driving erratically. Most crime has occurred when riders have mounted the pavement or driven the wrong way down one-way streets. If you are fully situationally aware you can spot the strange behaviour of a moped or see that there are two passengers long before they get to you. Watch the pillion passenger’s hands to check for weapons and take evasive action if you feel under threat.
- Evasive action – If you identify a threat or you feel unsafe always have a plan to take evasive action. Street lamps, post boxes and telephone booths make an excellent cover if a moped is heading straight for you, they won’t get through those obstacles and will have to swerve or dismount. Knowing where police stations are and having set safe houses on your regular route to and from work is a good idea. If you are caught out in an unfamiliar location then dive into the nearest shop, bank or post office to escape the gangs. The criminals are looking for an easy target so if you have noticed them and taken active steps to avoid confrontation then they will look for other victims.
- Report it – If you see a crime in progress or you witness a moped behaving suspiciously or carrying an offensive weapon, report it to the police on 999 if it is an emergency or 101 at all other times. Try to make a note of the registration plate number, what make and colour the moped is, clothing of the assailants including shape and colour of motorcycle helmets. Are they wearing gloves? If no then look at their hands to help identify their ethnicity, remember every little piece of detail will help the police so try to remember as much as you can. Don’t forget to state the location of the incident and the direction in which the gang moved to and answer any other questions the police may have for you to the best of your knowledge.
If at any stage you feel you need more advice or you want to take steps towards protecting yourself or your staff get in touch with our operators at Fox Surveillance and Security Solutions. We hold a one day accredited training course in Personal Security Awareness and our phone is answered 24/7 unless operationally impossible.