29th May 2014
Five members of a gang which committed a string of mobile phone 'snatch' street robberies on a moped in London have been jailed.
The five-strong team, who drove a high-powered 300cc Aprilia scooter to steal phones from their victims’ hands, committed 46 offences over an 11-day period in 2013. They also stole the moped in September of that year.
At Kingston Crown Court, Jerome Williams aged 17, Walid Hnida aged 18, Michael Ahmed aged 20 and Courtney Morgan aged 19 were all imprisoned for various terms. 16 year-old Deandre Riley-Reid received a Youth Rehabilitation Order. All of the men had previously pleaded guilty to the offences in March 2014.
In September 2013 detectives from Wandsworth CID identified that a was being consistently used by thieves to target commuters and other members of the public for their smartphones and other hand held devices. On some occasions the suspects (one driver and one pillion passenger) would park their moped to monitor the flow of pedestrian traffic and who was in possession of devices. Once a target was established, the suspects, faces hidden under crash helmets, rode up to victims to snatch their items at close proximity. The moped, which would be driven onto the pavement, would then make off at speed. The campaign of crime took place across South West London, with most incidents in Wandsworth but some taking place in Lambeth, Richmond and Hammersmith & Fulham.
It was mainly iPhones, Samsungs and iPads that were snatched from victims, most of whom were female and one of whom was in an advanced stage of pregnancy. On one day alone a total of ten offences were committed within a five hour period.
Most of the robberies resulted in no injuries being sustained, but violence was used on at least eight occasions. One woman was punched in the face before her phone was stolen. Another who fell to the floor whilst being robbed was dragged along the pavement as she tried to keep hold of it. Another resisted the robbery outside her workplace, resulting in a short struggle during which she was pulled towards the moped, burning her leg on the bike's hot exhaust which resulted in hospital treatment.
Detective Inspector Mark Blackshaw, from Wandsworth CID, said: "This was an organised group of criminals who targeted commuters and innocent members of the public who were going about their ordinary business. It became evident that the violence being used began to escalate throughout the series, including mopeds being ridden indiscriminately along busy pavements and victims being punched in the face for their mobile phones. I am in no doubt that had these offenders not been caught quickly, more serious injuries to the public would have been sustained.”
Detective Superintendent Penny Banham added: "In total, Wandsworth CID solved 58 individual offences of street robbery linked solely to this criminal network whose crime spree came to a complete halt following a phenomenally fast and detailed investigation. The value of the handsets stolen from across the four London Boroughs stands at £120,000."
The Metropolitan Police advises people to register their property on www.immobilise.com to help police to aid them in recovering it in the event of theft or loss.