Interview: Superintendent denies moped muggings are becoming more brazen

Superintendent Mark Payne with a stolen motorbike which is being dusted for fingerprints. Photo: Ann

Superintendent Mark Payne with a stolen motorbike which is being dusted for fingerprints. Photo: Anna Behrmann - Credit: Archant

The superintendent admitted there is a ‘perfect storm’ for the moped phone snatches to take place, leading to a rise in incidents across Camden, Haringey and Barnet.

Camden police figures reveal that there were 1,680 incidents where criminals stole mobile phones using a moped from May 2016 to April 2017, with 649 mopeds stolen in the same period.

There are 22 mopeds being stolen across London every single day, which might be used to commit crimes in Camden and Haringey.

The Ham&High has previously reported on shocking incidents, including two men armed with an angle grinder and hammer circling shocked onlookers four times in Belsize Park this month.

The paper was invited to Islington Police station to meet superintendent Mark Payne, who was standing in front of around 40 stolen mopeds which had been seized and will be fingerprinted before being returned to their owners.

Superintendent Mark Payne said while the numbers of incidents are rising, he does not believe the attacks are getting more shocking.

He said: “I think it’s always been a brazen offence, because you’re riding a bike through the streets of London, in broad daylight snatching the mobile phones off people.”

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Superintendent Payne believes that crime is partly going up because mopeds are too easy to steal, and should be secured by their owners by using a chain through the back wheel.

He said: “You’ve got a perfect storm, you’ve got things like mopeds which are fast and moveable, very easy to steal, and you’ve got people out there with very expensive mobile phones on them.”

Police statistics show that Camden saw a 30.46 per cent rise in “theft of person” crimes in March, compared to February, while Haringey saw a 20.57pc rise. In Barnet, the increase was 56.19pc.

Superintendent Payne said it was “rich pickings” for the moped riders, who practice stealing phones off each other.

The practiced criminals can apparently identify mobile phones from 30m away, and can identify different phone makes by their dimensions even when they are safely tucked away in people’s pockets.

Superintendent Payne said the police were about to roll out three new tactics, but refused to reveal what they would be.

He defended current police action to combat moped riders.

“The met police pursues all criminals and just because we’re not chasing them with a car, doesn’t mean to say we’ll not pursue them by other means.

“If we’ve got their DNA, if we’ve got their face, if we know who they are, there is no point pursuing them through the streets of London, we will get them by other means...”

“Everyone wants to see an exciting chase, but sometimes there’s better ways, safer ways of doing the same thing.”

He added that officers take into account possible dangers to the public, the moped riders and the police, before pursuing a vehicle.

Describing deterents to moped riders, Superintendent Payne added: “I think the unfortunate thing is that what you’re doing is stealing a mobile phone. On the scale of offending, it’s not high up there with the really serious.

“The courts deal with it as a lower level offence.”