Camden model tells of her terror as she is attacked by moped muggers
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
Rochaun Clarke-Edwards was left traumatised after the robbers on a moped sped up onto the pavement behind her and snatched her phone
The 20-year-old, from Camden Town, was shaking and struggled to breath after she was mugged while walking along Junction Road, in Tufnell Park, in broad daylight at around 4.30pm last Wednesday.
She said: “I was so terrified, I had a panic attack. I was shaking and couldn’t breath. If they had hit me with the moped, I could have been killed. It is so dangerous.”
The attack follows several similar incidents in the Hampstead area this year where moped robbers have risked the lives of pedestrians by mounting the pavement and snatching their belongings.
In one attack in Hampstead High Street at 6pm on March 2, a pedestrian, who did not wish to be identified, said: “A moped with a pillion passenger, both wearing black crash-helmets mounted the pavement and attempted to grab my phone away from my ear. I thankfully managed to keep hold of it and pushed them with my other hand.”
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In another terrifying attack involving mopeds this week, ramraiders used a moped to smash through the door of a house off West Heath Road in Hampstead and escaped with jewellery (see story right)
The surge in moped robberies comes at a time when it has been revealed that officers are being pulled out of local neighbourhoods to help emergency response teams and two bikes in the Hampstead policing area have been withdrawn.
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Rochaun, who works as a special needs teacher at Hargrave Park School, said: “We need more police and I would like to see them on motorbikes so they have a chance of catching them.”
She described how she was walking to meet her mum Naomi Clarke to watch her brother in a basketball match at Acland Burghley School when she was attacked suddenly from behind.
She said: “I still had my headphones in so I didn’t hear anything but suddenly saw the flash of wheels and a guy on the back of the bike nudged me hard out of the way. He grabbed my phone from my hand.
“My headphones were still attached so I started running after them but they threw the headphones back at me and sped off.”
She described the riders as two large men wearing helmets to cover their faces.
The teacher has now been suffering nightmares. “I am still shaken and haven’t been able to sleep as I keep reliving it,” she said.
Jessica Learmond-Criqui, chairman of the Frognal and Fitzjohns Safer Neighbourhood Panel, is furious that previous calls for police motorbike patrols have been ignored and wants an end to the practice of seconding officers from the Hampstead area to other parts of Camden.
She blames London-wide cuts to the Metropolitan police: “It will not be a matter of time before someone in Hampstead is killed by a moped rider. What will Boris Johnson then say to the family of that victim?...Our homes are being invaded by mopeds and burglars. We are not feeling safe and are in fear.”
Chief Insp. Steve Wright confirmed that two motorbikes in the Camden fleet had been withdrawn and would not be replaced: “This decision is based on cost, operational effectiveness of the bikes and the number of trained officers available to ride them,” he said.
He said while every ward had a dedicated PC and community support officer, other members of the neighbourhood policing team were required to help police elsewhere in the capital. “If somebody calls 999 we must have officers available to respond to that emergency. There is a lot of work being done by the Metropolitan Police to try and reduce the level of abstractions,” he said.
He said Met-wide operations were targeting moped crime: “People could assist by thinking about when and where they use their phones,” he added.