September 19 2014 Latest news:
EXCLUSIVE by Emma Youle, News editor
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Audacious thieves carried out seven terrifying moped muggings in Hampstead in one day, as community fears about a rising crime wave escalate.
Teenagers posing as potential buyers stole a scooter while on a test drive on Saturday after meeting the owner through the Gumtree website, and are believed to have used it to carry out a series of robberies from 5.30pm.
The young pair quickly covered ground, targeting people with mobile phones, moving from Hampstead Village to South End Green and Gospel Oak.
One man was talking on a £600 iPhone when it was snatched and another woman was shoved to the ground. The riders also attempted to snatch a man’s watch in another attack.
Police have stepped up patrols, but fears are rife that NW3 has become an easy target for criminals after the closure of Hampstead police station last June.
"It’s not about rich people whinging, it’s about proper and effective policing and taking the right decisions for the community to keep people safe and secure "
Jessica Learmond-Criqui, chairman of the Frognal and Fitzjohn’s Safer Neighbourhoods Panel, said: “It’s not about rich people whinging, it’s about proper and effective policing and taking the right decisions for the community to keep people safe and secure.”
She praised Camden police for the “much improved presence” of officers and patrol cars on the streets since a heated public meeting with the borough commander in June, but said this was not a lasting solution.
“They still don’t have sufficient resources to cover us for the next three months, six months, 12 months, or 10 years without having to move resources around in Camden,” she said.
“The government can find £50billion to build the High Speed 2 train line and yet they can’t find a few hundred thousand pounds to sort out police buildings in key areas.
“It is the worst dismantling of the police force in my lifetime.”
Some 1,700 people have signed a petition calling for a police base to be reinstated in Hampstead, after moped gangs rampaged in the area earlier this year.
In June several mums were mugged picking up children on the school run. In May, moped raiders smashed through the front door of ex-Championship footballer Alexander Merkel’s Hampstead home, and hammer attacks have been carried out on residents for their watches or jewellery.
A letter from Boris Johnson’s deputy mayor for policing and crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, to Camden Council’s cabinet member for crime, was made public this week. He wrote: “Hampstead residents deserve to be and to feel safe, but buildings do not catch burglars.”
He said he was concerned about “proper police visibility” and that he would formally raise the matter with the Metropolitan Police’s assistant commissioner for territorial policing.
Police have charged a 16-year-old girl with a robbery on Saturday.
A boy and girl, both aged 16, have been bailed.
* Anyone with information about the robberies should call 101 quoting ref 2318688/14 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.