A man who used stolen scooters to steal mobile phones and other valuables has been jailed after he was identified by a new DNA tagging spray being used by the Metropolitan Police to tackle moped and scooter-enabled crime.
Spencer Duarte, 21, from Stansted, Essex was jailed for four years on Friday 18th May. He also received four years disqualification from driving and a three year Criminal Behaviour Order which means he will not to be riding a two-wheeled vehicle for three years and prevented from using a phone not registered to him.
The court heard how Duarte stole a scooter and used it to rob and steal phones. Met Police used SelectaDNA tagging spray on a number of vehicles which led them to him. The tagging spray is one of the Met’s innovative tactics against moped and scooter-enabled crime. The spray is invisible to the naked eye but when exposed to UV light illuminates and allows officers to identify offenders and seize their bikes.
Duarte first appeared in court on Friday, 23rd February where he pleaded guilty to theft of a scooter, seven counts of theft, using a motor vehicle without insurance and driving whilst disqualified. He was also found to be in breach of his licence and was recalled to prison.
On 1st December 2017, police recovered an abandoned scooter that was displaying a false number plate on the Hill Crest Estate in Haringey. The scooter and a helmet, which had been used by Duarte, were examined under ultra-violet light and found to be covered in SelectaDNA tagging spray.
On 8th February, Duarte committed a series of theft snatch offences on a scooter registered to his girlfriend, Julie Clapham. A member of the public who had his phone snatched by Duarte, gave chase and tackled him, causing him to come off his moped. Duarte abandoned the vehicle, and discarded his helmet, clothing and stolen items before making off.
DNA and fingerprint evidence were obtained from the abandoned scooter as well as the helmet and stolen phones left behind. The tagging spray remains on skin and clothing for weeks, meaning police can indisputably link offenders like Duarte to their crimes at a later date.
Police obtained local CCTV footage and launched an investigation to find Duarte, who had now stolen property on two separate scooters.
The Operation Venice Investigation Team (VIT), who tackle scooter-related crime, took over the investigation in February and pieced together the chain of offences. They conducted a manhunt which would lead to Duarte's arrest and conviction.
VIT officers found Duarte on 5th February at his girlfriend Julie Clapham's address in Islington, hiding in an upstairs bedroom cupboard, where they arrested him for theft of a motor vehicle.
As Duarte was being taken away by police, he claimed to be suffering from intense abdominal pain and was taken to hospital. After being discharged, he broke free and escaped.
Following a manhunt, Duarte was located on Thursday, 22nd February at another house in Islington. He was arrested for escaping from lawful police custody and taken to a north London police station.
Duarte was charged with 11 offences, including the taking of a motor vehicle; seven counts of theft person; disqualified driving and driving with no insurance before being sentenced as above.
Jade Clapham, who pleaded guilty to assisting Duarte in hiding from police, will be sentenced in July.
Detective Superintendent Lee Hill said: "This was a fantastic result, which has seen the perpetrator of audacious thefts and robberies using stolen scooters receive a lengthy time in jail. These sentences send out a strong message that such incidents will be dealt with robustly by the Met and the courts.
"Police are working hard to keep the public safe and make the streets hostile territory for criminals who steal scooters, mopeds, motorbikes and bicycles and then use them to snatch valuables from members of the public."
For further information and images contact: Angela Singleton, Press Officer for Selectamark.
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