London is experiencing a mind-boggling increase in muggings and street thefts, and it affects all of us. These crimes have one common denominator: more often than not, the opportunistic culprits use high-powered scooters as their vehicle of choice.
The figures don’t lie: close to 50,000 scooter related crimes were committed last year, which is a staggering 44% rise over the previous period.
This crime surge is slowly gaining some traction in the media and you’ve probably seen some disturbing videos of these crimes, often committed in broad daylight, circulating on social media. However the question remains: are the authorities doing enough to combat these offenses?
William Starritt, Co-Founder – Urban Rider London
“Policing motorcycle and scooter crime has been a low priority for too long. We all pay for it with increased motor insurance premiums due to unprecedented theft rates. Now the effect is being felt by the general public with the rise of scooter related gang crime. The results of this survey show immediate action is required.”
With such a dramatic rise in crime involving scooter riders we wanted to find out if Londoners believe the police are doing enough to tackle the issue. We surveyed over 500 Londoners to find out their thoughts and posed the following question:
With Scooter Gang related crime on the rise, do you feel the Police are doing enough to tackle the problem in London?
The results were clear: the majority (65%) of people don’t feel enough is currently being done.
The age of the respondents was spread relatively evenly, which suggests the issue affects the entire population, no matter the age group:
So what is happening in London?
Modern scooters are agile and powerful enough to prove a perfect inner-city get-away vehicle. Motorcycles are relatively easy to get hold of for these criminals. It is far easier to steal a scooter or motorcycle than it is to steal a car. Many are left virtually unsecured on the streets of London and thieves come with an array of specialized tools including battery-powered angle grinders. Once they’ve made it through any security-measures present it takes little knowhow to get a bike started and if that fails, they’ll just push it off with another scooter to try again somewhere more secluded.
The impact on motorcyclists in London is that motorcycle theft has skyrocketed. This article by the Motorcycle Crime Reduction Group estimates the value of motorcycle theft in the capital during the last financial year to be more than £28,000,000.
The biggest problem is that these criminals know that the police currently have strict limitations when it comes to pursuits. As an example, removing your helmet means that the police are no longer allowed to chase you, and are therefore forced to stop the pursuit due to risk of life.
Charley Boorman, Londoner, motorcyclist and member of We Ride London:
'It's such a shame that we have the terrible scooter theft problem fueling street crime. Scooters and motorbikes are part of the solution in this heavily congested city of London. We all need the authorities to do more.'
What can be done by the authorities?
We think the problem should be attacked at its roots. Obviously every motorcyclist will want his or her bike to be harder to acquire. Riders can do their bit by following basic steps such as locking their bikes and using data tags and trackers to deter theft, but some support from the authorities would not be misplaced.
If you look at the investment cycling has received in London to make the roads safer and encourage more people to commute on bicycles, some would argue that investment in secured parking for motorcycles and initiatives to help prevent theft should be available.
Given the positive impact on congestion that motorcycling has in the city, there’s a clear benefit to be had by encouraging people to ride in London and one of the more obvious encouragements would definitely be increased security.
What is being done?
Despite the claims by the public that the police aren’t doing as much as they could be, the authorities of London have explained that they are aware of the situation and they are responding to it.
New measures include: a revamped Operation Venice to organise action across the 32 London boroughs. The Police claim to have placed extra officers on the streets in order to spot crime as it happens. The police are refusing to give away details about some of the tougher tactics that they have introduced. However, they have explained that new guidelines will allow police officers to take effective and safe action if they come across scooter thieves.
Can you help?
We have a responsibility as members of the public to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity as it happens. The red flags are all too easy to spot, keep your eyes open and you’ll see one of the following on a nearly daily basis in Central London:
- Scooters being ridden with no number plates
- Scooters jumping red lights and ignoring traffic rules
- Scooters being ridden on the pavement
- Balaclavas worn by riders even when it’s warm out
- Scooters being ridden erratically in groups, usually with passengers
Please don’t shy away from notifying the authorities when you see anything resembling the above, simply dial 101 from your phone, it’s free. If the situation is serious and requires immediate action, dial 999.
If we as riders and members of the general public can use our vantage point on the roads to be more vigilant, and with a greater investment from the authorities, we should start to see a positive impact on scooter gang related crime in London.
Let’s keep riding in London positive and safe!