Clampdown on Moped muggers proves huge success

Operation Breeze sees 18 people arrested and 57 vehicles seized

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Local Police have arrested 18 people during an operation to clamp down on offenders on mopeds who snatch handbags or other personal property from members of the public.

A total of 57 vehicles were also seized, 30 of which were mopeds. These vehicles were found to have no insurance, no tax or to have been stolen or abandoned.

The intelligence-led operation, codenamed Breeze II, ran for three days and combined prevention techniques with reactive tactics aimed at catching offenders. Police worked in partnership with the local authorities and a number of other agencies.

Offenders involved in crimes of this nature are often (although not exclusively) teenage or young adult males often with no licences or little riding experience, yet sometimes riding vehicles of up to 500cc. Using a moped and wearing a helmet offers them anonymity and affords them a quick getaway with minimum physical exertion.

A helicopter from the Met's Air Support Unit, used during the operation, gave police a bird's eye view of the area and fed information to other officers on the ground about suspicious mopeds or vehicles. Officers also used ANPR (automatic number plate reader) technology to stop suspicious mopeds or vehicles and search people where appropriate.

The vehicles used in this type of crime are often stolen or improperly registered, sometimes changing hands often among a group of associates. Taking these mopeds off the street can prevent crime from happening.

For the first time traffic wardens were used as the eyes and ears of police during the operation and were tasked with reporting any suspicious looking vehicle or moped they came across. Street wardens also supported Safer Neighbourhood teams who used their local knowledge to find out where illegal mopeds were concealed. Suspicious vehicles were checked and taken away by the DVLA.

Although moped enabled crime remains low, its occurrence does not just result with a victim of crime. Victims and other pedestrians are also at risk of physical injury through the desperation of the offender to escape. As they make their getaway, the victim and other road users are sometimes affected by collisions or near misses.

Chief Insp Keith Overstall said, "Operation Breeze has been running now for two years with considerable success. We started the operation to crack down on offenders who commit robbery on mopeds. These offenders put their victims and themselves at risk often only for a small amount of cash. It can be terrifying for a victim. Our use of helicopters, in particular, increases the chances of catching these people.

"Hammersmith & Fulham officers were supported by the surrounding boroughs, the Met's Traffic and Air Support Units the DVLA and local authority. This was a very large scale operation with each agency making a significant contribution which led to the overall success."

Cllr Greg Smith, Hammersmith & Fulham Council cabinet member for crime & anti-social behaviour, said "The yobs and criminals who tear around on these bikes have had a rude awakening. The council is supporting the police in their zero tolerance approach to these offenders who have no respect for other people's property or safety."


July 29, 2006