Police charge moped riders over robbing lone females in south London

Arrests come after death of Sarah Everard prompted demands for better protection of women

The Metropolitan Police say they have arrested suspects accused of targeting lone women in south London. AFP.
Powered by automated translation

Police in London have arrested two people over dozens of robberies against lone women in south London.

The men are accused of targeting victims in the areas of Clapham, Balham and Tooting, near to where Sarah Everard was last seen before her death. The investigations are not linked.

Metropolitan Police said they had attempted to apprehend the suspects since November as part of an investigation named Operation Venice. The offences are believed to have taken place between October and November last year.

Detectives said the alleged suspects were on mopeds as they stole valuables from the women on residential streets before riding off.

On March 22, officers made three arrests after tracking the suspects to a location using GPS data from a stolen phone. Police said the men were in possession of multiple items of recently stolen property.

One man - a shop owner from north London - was detained while the two others escaped by running over live train lines.

The shop owner was arrested for robbery and handling stolen goods but was released on bail.

The two other men, both aged 26, were quizzed by detectives and charged on March 23. Police have accused them of carrying out 23 robberies and 20 snatch offences.

Detective Inspector Gavin Collins, from the Operation Venice Investigation Team, said: “This operation has been months of good old fashioned police work and a determination by the officers to disrupt a linked series of robberies and arrest those suspected of targeting people – mostly lone women – and using mopeds to violently rob and steal their mobile telephones.

“For us to build a strong case to present to the [Crown Prosecution Service], officers meticulously investigated similar crimes and built a robust investigation that took a number of months to progress. I hope that the public understand that for us to investigate crimes fully, it can be a lengthy process but enables us to show the true extent of the offending.

“Our work to prevent and reduce crimes committed by criminals using mopeds has seen this crime type reduce significantly over the years - something we are proud of and will continue to pursue, especially as we begin to see lockdown easing.”

The death of Ms Everard earlier this month sparked calls for better protection for women against crime, and the handling of a vigil held in Ms Everard's name resulted in widespread criticism of the police.

Police officer charged with kidnap and murder in Sarah Everard death

Police officer charged with kidnap and murder in Sarah Everard death

Moped-enabled crime has been a constant menace in the UK's capital in recent years. Many offences are carried out by young people looking to swipe expensive watches in London's most affluent districts.

Crimes involving thieves on motorbikes has increased by 30 times since 2012, and increased in severity from simple street snatches to attacks using acid and weapons, according to police data and officials.

However, following a peak of moped-enabled crime in the UK in July 2017, there has been a steady fall after police were given new powers to deal with the threat.