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Two-man theft moped teams with hammers terrify Londoners

  • Thieves circled victims outside the BBC Broadcasting House off Oxford Street
  • Photographs showed the criminals waving a hammer and crowbar at people
  • An iPhone was snatched from the hands of a woman in her 40s on pavement
  • Police desperate to catch smash and grab muggers who hunt in packs of two
  • Hard-core of around 200 people responsible for the vast majority of crimes

By Chris Greenwood, Chief Crime Correspondent For The Daily Mail

Published: 11:12 EDT, 5 May 2017 | Updated: 11:20 EDT, 5 May 2017

This is the shocking moment weapon-wielding moped raiders brought terror to the heart of London.

Clutching a hammer and crowbar, marauding thieves circle for victims outside the BBC’s landmark headquarters, just off Oxford Street.

The four thieves roared around the West End, waving their weapons to deter any have-a-go heroes from trying to tackle them.

At least one iPhone was stolen from a woman in her 40s when it was snatched out of her hand as she waited to cross the road.

Criminals: This is the shocking moment weapon-wielding moped raiders brought terror to the heart of London - grabbing at least one iPhone from the hand of a pedestrian while clutching a hammer (circled)
Criminals: This is the shocking moment weapon-wielding moped raiders brought terror to the heart of London - grabbing at least one iPhone from the hand of a pedestrian while clutching a hammer (circled)

Criminals: This is the shocking moment weapon-wielding moped raiders brought terror to the heart of London - grabbing at least one iPhone from the hand of a pedestrian while clutching a hammer (circled)

Shocking: The four thieves roared around the West End, waving their weapons, including a crowbar, pictured, to deter any have-a-go heroes from trying to tackle them 
Shocking: The four thieves roared around the West End, waving their weapons, including a crowbar, pictured, to deter any have-a-go heroes from trying to tackle them 

Shocking: The four thieves roared around the West End, waving their weapons, including a crowbar, pictured, to deter any have-a-go heroes from trying to tackle them 

Police are desperate to catch the menacing thugs who use stolen mopeds to mug pedestrians and smash and grab valuable goods from trendy shops. 

Photographer Alex Lentati said he was almost knocked over by one of the mopeds when it mounted the pavement.

‘At first I thought it was just bad driving, but then he mounted the pavement and started coming at me at fairly high speed,’ he told the Evening Standard.

‘I’d just come off the phone and was putting it in my pocket. As the bike got closer it rode at me on the pavement, then whizzed past me on the inside next to the wall.

‘The audacity of it was that another one turned up and then they went round the block and came back again tearing down Great Portland Street.

‘When they came round the second time one of them brandished the hammer, like they didn’t want anyone to chase them or get close. It felt very brazen.’

The BBC has sent internal memos to staff warning them to be vigilant for moped gangs and to keep their valuables out of sight.

Radio 4 report Andrew Bomford said he saw the thieves almost crash into a man as they targeted him on a pedestrian crossing.

He said: ‘They almost clipped him as they were going past. He threw his hands up in the air and started running after them. They turned up the street towards the BBC.

‘The guy that had been almost hit was chasing after them, and they came past me. Someone on the second bike was waving a hammer in his hand.

‘It seemed to me like it was a warning to not try and follow them or grab them, or he would hit you. It’s completely brazen, and it’s happening all the time, and it’s the same thing each time.’

Police are desperate to catch the menacing thugs, who work in pairs, pictured, and  use stolen mopeds to mug pedestrians and smash and grab valuable goods from trendy shops
Police are desperate to catch the menacing thugs, who work in pairs, pictured, and  use stolen mopeds to mug pedestrians and smash and grab valuable goods from trendy shops

Police are desperate to catch the menacing thugs, who work in pairs, pictured, and use stolen mopeds to mug pedestrians and smash and grab valuable goods from trendy shops

Police are desperate to catch the menacing thugs who use stolen mopeds to mug pedestrians and smash and grab valuable goods from trendy shops.

The culprits, dubbed ‘pavement pirates’ because of their disregard for the law, are responsible for a worrying crime wave.

Investigators suspect many are controlled by Fagin-style masterminds who arrange for the mopeds to be stolen and stored before selling on the spoils.

They are responsible for a crime wave in which offences involving mopeds has risen seven-fold in two years, from 1,053 in 2014 to 7,668 last year.

In Islington alone, the worst hit borough, more than 300 phones were being snatched every month at the height of the crime wave.

Some victims have been told by frontline officers that they are reluctant to chase suspects on two-wheels after the tragic death of a teenager three years ago.

They are also difficult to identify as they wear helmets, masks and gloves to beat CCTV cameras and avoid leaving forensic traces.

But a determined crackdown, in which Scotland Yard launched a dedicated unit to identify those responsible has led to a series of high-profile convictions.

Warning: The latest incident came yards from Broadcasting House (file picture) and the BBC has sent internal memos to staff warning them to be vigilant for moped gangs and to keep their valuables out of sight
Warning: The latest incident came yards from Broadcasting House (file picture) and the BBC has sent internal memos to staff warning them to be vigilant for moped gangs and to keep their valuables out of sight

Warning: The latest incident came yards from Broadcasting House (file picture) and the BBC has sent internal memos to staff warning them to be vigilant for moped gangs and to keep their valuables out of sight

They believe there is a hard-core of around 200 people who are responsible for the vast majority of crimes.

In one case a moped muggers was caught red-handed after being tracked by helicopter as he tried to escape by riding the wrong way up the M11.

Chief Superintendent Peter Ayling, head of policing in Westminster, said: ‘We are working hard to keep the public safe.

‘We have been made aware of this serious incident and it is a top priority to identify and arrest these reckless offenders.’

 

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