Intensive proactive policing and engagement by the Metropolitan Police, together with the deployment of a range of tactics including a DNA tagging spray, has resulted in a reduction of 44% in moped crime across London.
Criminals have been using mopeds to commit crimes such as mobile phone theft at a rate of up to 30 phone snatches an hour. Victims are often targeted as they come out of tube stations or at transport hubs. Thieves also snatch handbags, high value watches and other items.
The Met’s Operation Venice Investigation Team has been dispatching uniformed 'Scorpion' officers who are highly trained drivers and motorcycle riders to catch offenders as well as using SelectaDNA forensic tagging spray and automatic tyre deflation devices in the 12 borough command units across London.
Latest year-on-year figures for moped crime show that in January 2017 to October 2017 there were 19,455 offences across London compared to January 2018 to October 2018 when there were 12,419 offences (7,036 fewer offences) - a reduction of 44 per cent.
Latest year-on-year figures for theft of mopeds show that in January 2017 to October 2017 there were 12,192 offences across London compared to January 2018 to October 2018 when there were 8,261 offences (3,931 fewer offences) - a reduction of 38 per cent.
The introduction of the SelectaDNA tagging spray tactic appears to have been a major factor in the reduction figures, with offenders now realising that the police finally have a method of proving without doubt they were at the scene of the crimes they commit.
The spray can be aimed by officers at moped offenders, marking the bikes, clothing and skin of any riders and passengers with a uniquely-coded but invisible DNA that will provide forensic evidence to link them to a specific crime. The spray shows up blue under UV light.
There have been 28 arrests so far linked to the spray and several convictions.
In October, two men (Jack Green and Tarik Oliveira) were sprayed with DNA tagging spray after committing phone snatches on a moped and engaging police in a high-speed pursuit across London. They were each sentenced to over two years in prison.
In May, the spray helped to convict two moped offenders (Spencer Duarte and Abderrahman Hassan) in separate incidents in London. Both offenders were given jail sentences for their crimes.
Also in May, moped offender Mohammad Khaleghi (picture courtesy: Met Police) was sprayed with SelectaDNA Tagging Spray as he rode his moped dangerously in Camden. When police later caught up with him, a UV light exposed the spray and he was jailed for various driving offences.
Following West Yorkshire Police’s first use of the high tech tagging spray, teenager Connor Walker was convicted. Merseyside Police have previously secured two convictions using the spray.
The same DNA spray technology is also being used successfully by other police forces across the UK to tackle the problem including West Midlands Police, Cheshire Constabulary, Merseyside Police, Surrey Police, West Yorkshire Police and Police Scotland.
Commander Amanda Pearson of Frontline Policing, said: "The Met is at the forefront of tackling moped and motorcycle crime and I am pleased to see that we have seen a reduction in offences. However, we are not complacent and we will continue to work tirelessly across London to maintain this downward trend.
"Operation Venice is multi-faceted and we can call on all manner of tactics from an experienced investigation team to police helicopters to tackle and arrest offenders.
"There is a perception that if you remove your helmet or fail to stop for police when requested to do so we will not take any further course of action. This is untrue.
"The public quite rightly expects us to intervene to keep London safe. Our highly trained police drivers weigh up the risks and decide upon the most appropriate tactics in those circumstances.
"Offenders on mopeds and motorcycles who attempt to evade the police are making a choice that puts themselves and others at risk.
"So our message is clear: we can, we will and we do target those involved in moped and motorcycle crime at every opportunity."
For further information and images contact: Angela Singleton, Press Officer for Selectamark.
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