|Criminal Gang Who Snatched Phones Sentenced
They used a high-powered scooter and targeted victims throughout Wandsworth
Four men who were part of an organised criminal network which committed a string of mobile phone 'snatch' street robberies on a moped have been jailed.
The five-strong team who drove a high-powered scooter to steal phones from their victim’s hands, are responsible for a total of 46 offences and stealing the moped - all committed over a 11 day period last year.
Amongst the 46 reported crimes eight took part in Putney on the following roads;
Nine crimes took place in the Wandsworth Town area on the following roads;
All five were sentenced as follows at Kingston Crown Court today (May 27th).
Walid Hnida, 18, who was a juvenile at the start of court proceedings was sentenced to three years and four months imprisonment.
Michael Ahmed, 20, was sentenced to four years and eight months imprisonment.
Courtney Morgan, 19, was sentenced to two years imprisonment.
Deandre Riley-Reid, 16, received a Youth Rehabilitation Order for Conspiracy to steal between 21st September to 3rd October 2013.
A fifth youth, 17 year old Jerome Ashley-Williams, (pictured right), will be sentenced on Wednesday 28th May at the same court.
All of the men previously pleaded guilty to the offences in March 2014.
In September 2013 detectives from Wandsworth CID identified that a moped - a black 300cc Aprilla which was stolen in Battersea on 22nd September 2013 - was being consistently used by thieves to target commuters and other members of the public for their smart phones and hand held devices.
On some occasions the suspects (one driver and one pillion passenger) would park their moped to monitor the flow of pedestrian traffic and who was in possession of hand held devices. Once a target was established, the suspects, with their faces hidden under crash helmets, then rode up to victims to snatch their items at close proximity. The moped, which would be driven onto the pavement, would then make off at speed.
The team of robbers operated across south west London, mainly spanning the borough of Wandsworth, however offences took place in Lambeth, Richmond upon Thames and Hammersmith & Fulham.
They targeted members of the public for their smartphones - predominantly IPhones, Samsungs and IPads. One victim was a heavily pregnant at the time.
On one date alone (25th September 2013) a total of ten offences were committed within a five hour period. Whilst the majority of the offences resulted in no injuries being sustained by the predominantly female victims, on at least eight occasions violence was used to force victims into giving up their property.
One woman was punched in the face before her phone was stolen and another woman, who fell to the floor during the robbery, was dragged along the pavement as she tried to keep hold of her phone which was eventually stolen.
Video Footage of One Mugging Taken By Member of the Public
On 23 September 2013 two robbers on the moped drove up to a woman who was holding her mobile phone whilst she was outside her workplace in Wandsworth. The victim resisted and a short struggle ensued during which the woman was pulled towards the moped as both suspects tried to pry her phone from her grasp. She was then pulled onto the hot exhaust of the bike. Her leg was subsequently burnt and she required hospital treatment.
Following an intelligence-led proactive investigation which drew upon plain clothes operations, local intelligence and CCTV footage, the moped was seized by officers on 2nd October 2013 in Battersea.
Within a matter of hours, detectives executed a search warrant at Ahmed’s address, where he was found to be in possession of mobile phone casings and covers belonging to the stolen handsets. He was immediately arrested. Williams and Hnida were also arrested shortly afterwards.
Morgan, who had been previously charged and on bail for offences committed between 31st July - 2nd August, was arrested on 18 November alongside Riley-Reid. All were subsequently charged with the offences.
Detective Inspector Mark Blackshaw, from Wandsworth CID, said: "This was an organised group of criminals who targeted commuters and innocent members of the public who were going about their ordinary business. It became evident that the violence being used began to escalate throughout the series, including mopeds being ridden indiscriminately along busy pavements and victims being punched in the face for their mobile phones. I am in no doubt that had these offenders not been caught quickly, more serious injuries to the public would have been sustained.
"I would like to place on record my recognition of the excellent detective work and sheer tenacity that went into this investigation. The dedicated enquiry team worked together with the local community and the Crown Prosecution Service to bring the offenders to justice”
Detective Superintendent Penny Banham said: "In total, Wandsworth CID solved 58 individual offences of street robbery linked solely to this criminal network whose crime spree came to a complete halt following a phenomenally fast and detailed investigation. The value of the handsets stolen from across the four London Boroughs stands at £120,000.
Mobile phone related crime is a high priority for the Met and crimes such as robbery and theft can have a huge impact on victims. I hope these sentences reassure the public of Wandsworth of our capability and determination to identify, locate and prosecute offenders concerned in street robbery and mobile phone theft."
All members of the public are encouraged to register their own property on www.immobilise.com to help police to recover property to its lawful owner if it gets stolen.