Fighting bike crime on the front line: Cops step up their efforts to crack down on bike thefts

A stolen scooter is stopped by the Police in London
A stolen scooter is stopped by the Police in London
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The Metropolitan Police’s roads team have been working hard to tackle motorbike and moped theft in the capital and say it’s been paying off.

The Southern Borough Command Unit, for example, have been patrolling the open spaces in Croydon, Bromley and Sutton by motorcycle including their dedicated off-road bike.

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The team managed to cover over 100 miles in a single patrol, taking community policing and visibility to hard-to-reach parts of the city. Police in Lambeth, meanwhile, pursued a rider on a scooter before the offender ditched it and made off on foot.

"Checks showed it was on false plates and reported stolen," a statement from the Met revealed. "A search of the area found a second scooter hidden away after being stolen over a year ago – both machines were recovered for their owners."

But it’s not just London where bike crime is being taken seriously and forces elsewhere in the country are promising to crackdown after a spate of offences.

MCN heard just last week about increased patrols in Suffolk following a spike in thefts in Lowestoft and now West Midlands Police have announced that they will be running a similar operation. They already uncovered a small chopshop that was stripping stolen bikes for engine parts, but that’s just the beginning.

Sergeant Louise Maile, Kingstanding Neighbourhood Policing Supervisor, said: "Having a moped or any form of transport stolen is very upsetting and we know that for many, this can be a main form of transport and therefore greatly disruptive.

"We are determined to crackdown on this, enquiries into the thefts are continuing. We are reviewing the cases to help us build a bigger picture of intelligence. Anyone can report suspicious activity in the area and while security measures can’t guarantee your machine won’t be stolen, we would advise moped owners to take note of the preventative steps and guidance available," she said.


Cops tackle new wave of thefts: Huge rise in bike and scooter crime hits East Anglian town

First published on 9 July 2021 by Ben Clarke

Seized motorcycles in Suffolk

Suffolk Police are launching a new operation to tackle motorcycle and moped theft in Lowestoft after a spate of crime in the town.

Since January this year there have been around 50 reported thefts of bikes and scooters from the Lowestoft area. To put that in perspective, during all of 2019 (the last year with data available) there were 106 thefts across the entire county of Suffolk.

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In response to this sharp rise local police will be launching dedicated patrols, increasing engagement with motorcycle enthusiasts and clubs, collecting and analysing intelligence and running proactive investigations in a bid to snare offenders.

"Having a mode of transport stolen is extremely upsetting as well as disruptive for the victim, which is why we are determined to crackdown on this issue," commented Sgt Graham Baker of Suffolk Police.

"Enquiries into the thefts are continuing and we are always very keen to hear of any suspicious activity that can help build our picture of intelligence. We will keep you updated when we have some positive outcomes."

The force is also putting some of the responsibility on riders themselves by calling for owners to be vigilant and always make use of bike security.

Sgt Baker continued: "The other thing people can do is to follow some simple preventative tips. By adopting some simple habits, you will be in control of what happens to your machine when you leave it. Importantly, the more security measures and precautions you include, the less attractive your machine will be to thieves.

"An unsecured motorcycle is an easy target for thieves as it is relatively lightweight and can be wheeled away and lifted into a waiting vehicle.

"By adopting good practice and adding approved security devices, you could prevent loss and possibly reduce your insurance premiums."


Money seized from bike criminals gets used to fit ground anchors

First published on 9 July 2021 by Ben Clarke

Crime money has been turned into security

Somerset biker, Ollie Hulme, wanted his local council to do more to prevent motorcycle theft, so he put his money where his mouth is and got the ball rolling himself. Well, actually, he put the ill-gotten gains of criminals where his mouth is because the Avon & Somerset Police Community Trust were making the money available for projects to help reduce crime.

"There were gangs stealing anything that wasn’t securely locked up and boasting about it on social media," explained Ollie, who is a freelance motorcycle journalist. "Classics, adventure bikes, sportsbikes, scooters and mopeds were all getting nicked. They usually ended up wrecked, dumped in ditches or burned out.

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"A lot of people complain that the authorities won’t do anything to stop bike thefts, but it just took me a few emails. I thought the anchors would come in handy for bike tourists and for locals wanting to secure their machines. If you don’t ask, you don’t get."

Ground anchors help prevent against motorcycle thefts

In his application, Ollie pointed out that in their official guidance to bikers, Burnham-on-Sea Police advise locking your bike to an 'immovable object such as a ground anchor or street furniture' but that no such provision was made in the town’s carparks. He also worked to price up the job of fitting the devices, citing a recent initiative in Dulwich, London, that cost £500 per anchor.

A spokesman for Burnham-on-Sea Town Council said: "There are now public ground anchors fitted in spaces used for motorbike parking.

"Knowing that the area, especially Burnham, is a popular destination for motorcyclists, the town council, with Sedgemoor District Council approval, applied to the Police Community Trust for a grant of £1000 towards installing four heavy-duty, retractable ground anchors in the parking bays, with two anchors in each site."

See if you can do it too

Bike theft is a problem across the UK and yet few public carparks have secure anchors or railings to chain your bike to. Ollie has proved that it’s possible to get this changed with a bit of research and a few emails, so why not write to your local council and find out if a similar fund exists in your area?

Using the criminal’s own money to make the lives of other criminals harder seems like a pretty great idea to us and it sends a far more positive message than crushing seized bikes.


Moped riding robbers jailed: Keys to padlocks for stolen mopeds used in evidence

First published on 02 July 2021 by Ben Clarke

From top: Joseph Hamilton-Peart, Joshua Norris, Sean Tuso

Three men who terrorised South London businesses stealing £24,000 worth of cash, alcohol and cigarettes at knifepoint before fleeing on mopeds have been jailed at Croydon Crown Court.

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Sean Tuso, 21 of Belmont Road, Wallington, Joshua Norris, 22, of Colliers Water Lane, Thornton Heath and Joseph Hamilton-Peart, 20 of Craignish Avenue, SW16 were sentenced to six years, four years and four months and three years respectively for their parts in the offences.

Despite wearing face coverings and helmets making CCTV identification impossible, Tuso and Norris were linked to the crimes in part because they were in possession of keys to padlocks used to secure stolen mopeds on or near their addresses.

Forensic investigations also linked the men to a helmet, Rambo knife and hammer used during the robberies, and phone videos of the trio posing with the knives was also recovered by the Met Police’s Operation Venice taskforce.

South London robbery taking place

"These men terrorised shops in south London over a four week period, visiting mainly at night and threatening staff with knives and using violence to steal cash, alcohol and cigarettes," said Police Constable Tadas Balnys, from Operation Venice.

"Their spree was stopped thanks to the meticulous investigation by Venice officers which required diligent forensic work. The fingerprint, phone and DNA evidence in this investigation was vital in identifying each of the criminals. It highlights the proactive work we do every day to ensure serious offenders are identified and brought to justice.

"I hope that the verdict and sentencing helps to reassure the community that the Metropolitan Police are there to keep London safe. We are committed to tackling violent crime and have no tolerance for criminals who commit senseless acts of violence."


Antisocial riders feel the squeeze: Merseyside Police crush stolen or dangerous machines

First published on 25 June 2021 by Ben Clarke

Police in Merseyside crush unclaimed stolen or dangerous motorcycles

Merseyside Police crushed a number of seized motorcycles at an event on Monday, June 14, 2021. The vehicles were seized as part of Operation Brookdale, which was first introduced in 2012 to target antisocial and nuisance off-roading and theft.

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"Nuisance bikes are a major concern and every single stolen or dangerous bike crushed today is making our region safer," said Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell.

"Merseyside Police has worked really hard to tackle this issue, taking these bikes out of the hands of criminals. Since March more than 180 bikes have been seized, yet officers are not resting on their laurels. Today’s event is a visible demonstration of their on-going commitment to stopping the illegal and anti-social use of these bikes.

"If we are to remove them from our roads, we need the public’s help. By providing information either to the police, or anonymously to Crimestoppers, about where these unlicensed, uninsured bikes are being stored and who is using them, people can help the police to find them and seize them, making our streets safer for everyone."

The campaign appears to be working according to statistics from the police that show the number of reported incidents has dropped from 10,511 in 2016-17 to 5150 in the last 12 months, that’s a 49% reduction.

Chief Inspector Paul Holden added: "The number of bikes seized during this year’s operation should mean that our communities are subjected to fewer incidents in the future and I also hope it makes people who use off-road bikes illegally or anti-socially think very carefully about their behaviour.

"Despite our successes in seizing these bikes, we will not be complacent. We know many of our communities continue to be blighted by bikes being ridden dangerously and I want to reassure people that our work will carry on."


Ace day out for Op Venice as officers attend crime-busting Motorcycle Awareness Day

First published on 17 June 2021 by Ben Clarke

PS Clem Jones of Operation Venice

Bike crime and how to prevent it was under the spotlight as London’s Ace Cafe held its Motorcycle Awareness Day – or MAD Sunday – in aid of the charity Service by Emergency Rider Volunteers.

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Officers from the Met’s Op Venice team were on hand to showcase the bikes they use to chase down criminals in London – the slimline BMW F750GS and the more commonly seen R1250RTP – and were keen to give advice on keeping bikes safe.

"We are really pleased that the Ace invited us to this event. We take every opportunity to speak to bikers about protecting their motorcycles and powered two-wheelers," said Sergeant Clem Jones, the man in charge of the Op Venice team. 

Some of the Op Venice team at the Ace Café London

"Often, scooters and mopeds are stolen to commit violent crimes such as robberies and smash and grabs. When securing a bike or scooter, bikers help to protect their property but also help us to fight the thieves by making their lives difficult."

Sergeant Dave Bottomely who is in charge of the Bike Safe team was also on hand to talk to talk about reducing accidents. He said: "We want everyone to make the most of their motorcycle and ride responsibly and safely. We spoke with many on Sunday and provided biker-to-biker advice, which was great. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day."

These officers are normally out on the streets of London targeting thieves on stolen scooters and as lockdown is easing and people are out and about again, thieves are also out targeting those going about their day by snatching phones. 

Sgt Jones added: "It all happens very quickly. That’s why we need the public to help us and follow the advice to lock, chain and cover their scooters and bikes."


Jail for machete-wielding thieves: Three sentenced after motorbike stolen at knifepoint

First published on 10 June 2021 by Ben Clarke

Armed bike thieves ride away on stolen Yamaha

Three men have been jailed after a terrifying robbery last year in which machetes were used to threaten a victim and steal his motorbike.

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Rico Douglas, 21 of Wellesley Gardens, Moseley, Jamiah Clarke, 20 of Gorleston Road, Kings Heath and Rashaan Davis, 21 of Mary Vale Road, Bournville wore surgical masks over their faces and used threats of violence to steal the Yamaha on Sunday, April 19, 2020 in Stratford, Warwickshire.

The victim, a man in his twenties, wasn’t injured and called police to report the offence. The three men were arrested over the following days after being identified in CCTV footage where they can be seen taking the bike from its owner before all three all climbed aboard and rode away without wearing helmets.

The men appeared at Warwick Crown Court on Monday, May 24 and were sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison, six for Douglas, five for Clarke and four for Davis. They had all pleaded guilty to the robbery.

Thieves steal a Yamaha off roader at knifepoint

"This was a serious offence involving threats of violence by masked men wielding machetes," said investigating officer Det Sgt Jen Baker from Leamington CID after sentencing. "It took place at the start of the first lockdown when anxiety levels amongst the public were already high.

"While others were staying at home keeping each other safe, these three planned and carried out a terrifying robbery with no regard for their victim or the wider public. Thankfully, the victim was not injured but the incident left him understandably shaken.

"I’d like to thank the investigating team for their dedication on this case, which has led to these three offenders being brought to justice for their actions on that day."


Almost gone in 60 seconds: Owner chases thieves after six bikes are stolen in minutes

First published on 3 June 2021 by Ben Clarke

The shutters at R Spec MX after the ram raid

The owner of Hampshire-based off-road bike garage, R Spec MX, foiled an attempted theft after a Transit was used to ram the shutters at his premises. Richard Mead was woken up at home by text alerts from his CCTV and alarm systems in the early hours of Monday, May 25.

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He jumped straight into his car and headed for the garage, which is a couple of miles away, and rang the police to report the crime.

Mead explains what happened: "I always planned if this happened to use a railway bridge up the road to block them in but they were already too far gone for that to work so we waited in a layby for them to come past.

"One of the guys who works for us tried to block the road further up and they just sideswiped his van and barged through with a 4x4. They had the van with five bikes in and then the 4x4 had a Kawasaki KX250 hanging out the back, too."

The van was abandoned and the bikes were recovered

All of the stolen bikes were restored vintage crossers, including a 1990 Suzuki RM125 and the 1994 KX250, which eventually fell out of the rear of the 4x4 before being recovered.

"We carried on chasing them along country roads until we could see above the hedgerows that the van had stopped around the next corner. I didn’t know what to do because it was just me and my girlfriend and I didn’t want us to get attacked but then the police came up behind us so we carried on."

It turned out the thieves had abandoned the van and made off in the other vehicle with several police cars and the police helicopter in pursuit, leaving the bikes to be recovered.

Just pleased to have them back

R Spec MX stock and customer bikes in the stolen Transit van

The attempted theft has cost Richard some money repairing the bikes and his employee’s van but it could have been much worse.

He told MCN: "A couple of those bikes belong to customers who would have been gutted if we hadn’t got them back. The truth is that if we’d lost £30-£40k worth of stock there’s a good chance we’d have folded waiting for the insurance to pay out."

Hampshire Police were able to confirm that the van used in the crime was stolen and that investigations are ongoing.


Hunt is on for stolen bike chop shops here in the UK

First published on 27 May 2021 by Ben Clarke

Motorbikes in a shipping container

Stolen motorbikes can be recovered, used in further crimes, joy-ridden and burnt out or discovered for sale on auction sites, but what about the ones that are never found? Where do they go and what happens to them?

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We know that a percentage end up overseas, but that has become an increasingly difficult route for the criminals to take, especially as border scrutiny has increased post-Brexit. Bill Taylor from BikeTrac doesn’t think that as many bikes are making it out of the country these days, not in one piece at least.

"When BikeTrac first started ten years ago we saw more bikes heading towards the ports after they were taken. We either found them in shipping containers or boxed up ready to be shipped so we knew where they were headed. That route has become much rarer now.

"We normally recover a bike very quickly after it has been stolen. The thieves will store a stolen machine for a period of time to see if anyone comes for it and we generally recover it at this stage. But on the odd occasion that the bike is moved on before we get to it, they don’t seem to be heading straight out of the country.

Motorcycle parts on a shelf

"We tracked a customer’s BMW to a yard recently and when the police opened the container where it was being stored, they also found stripped parts from lots of other bikes. There was a swingarm from a Ducati and the number plate from a bike that was all over social media as having been stolen, too."

Vehicle crime expert Dr Ken German added: "Some bikes certainly make it out in containers but it’s far more lucrative to strip a bike and sell the parts. There’s much less risk in handling parts than there is if you’re caught with a whole bike."

What can you do to help?

Dr German says that there are ways that us bikers can fight back. "Systems like Datatag or other third party companies are an absolute must," he said. This is because they can help police identify stripped parts from a specific bike and build up a picture of who has been handling them or selling them on. "If the police enter a premises and find a seat and mudguard, they will have a hell of a job proving anything. But if they carry covert markings that link those parts to a specific stolen bike, it goes a long way to helping them build a case."


Figures show leap in thefts across Herts and West Mercia

First published on 13 May, 2021 by Ben Clarke

 Make sure your bike is as safe as possible

As the pandemic led thousands to put their bikes into hibernation during the national lockdowns, bike thieves saw chances to steal them dwindle.

The Office for National Statistics reported a 35% drop in crime in general during lockdowns back in 2020 and Police National Computer figures suggest that motorcycle theft dropped by as much as 45% against the same period in 2019.

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Now a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Motorcycle Action Group has revealed two police force areas that have bucked the trend. Bike thefts in Hertfordshire jumped from 134 in 2019 to 201 in 2020, an increase of 50% and West Mercia saw a 42% jump in thefts from 103 to 146.

"We still have a few responses to come back, but Hertfordshire and West Mercia’s responses are sticking out like a sore thumb," said MAG’s Director of Campaigns and Political Engagement, Colin Brown.

"Out of the 34 responses we’ve seen so far, only three have shown an increase. When the national trend is significantly down we have to ask why Hertfordshire and West Mercia have such ominous increases."

As a result of these figures, MAG wrote directly to all Police and Crime Commissioner candidates for Hertfordshire and West Mercia to request that they pledge to review motorcycle theft in their area and to work with MAG to tackle the issue.

Brown added: "Naturally we would hope that all PCCs will commit to work with us on tackling motorcycle theft. The figures for Hertfordshire and West Mercia make them of particular concern.

"London remains the worst affected area by far, but we cannot ignore such worrying figures coming from these two force areas."

Nobody from Hertfordshire or West Mercia police was available for comment as MCN went to press.


'I'm not having that!' - Brave biker goes on a mission to rescue stolen machine

First published on 05 May, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Mina Bloomfield with her ex's recovered Kawasaki Z1000SX

What started out as a relaxed Friday ride out to try on a new helmet quickly turned into an adrenaline-fuelled surveillance mission for London biker Mina Bloomfield after she discovered that her ex-partner’s machine had been stolen.

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According to a neighbour, her ex Paul’s Kawasaki Z1000SX had been lifted into a van by three men. The neighbour had a picture of the theft taking place but hadn’t managed to record the van’s registration. Luckily, the bike was fitted with a tracker and when Mina heard the address it had been moved to, she recognised roughly where it was.

"You hear so much about bikes being stolen and them not coming back and I just thought ‘I’m not having that’," Mina told MCN. "I needed to go out for fuel anyway, so I thought I’d go and see if I could find the van. I don’t know what possessed me really because you hear horror stories of thieves being tooled-up."

Mina drove to the address and found two vans that fitted the description and took pictures of the registration plates. "I knew in the back of my mind that the police don’t respond very quickly to bike theft, so I parked up around the corner and sent the images to Paul who confirmed which van it was.

"I didn’t want to get out of the car in case anyone saw me and at this point I thought about what I was actually going to do if the police didn’t turn up; I’m a female alone on a Friday night in a housing estate in a not-so-nice part of Enfield.

Paul's stolen Kawasaki in the back of a van

"I drove around in circles to bide my time and then parked up in a position where I could see the van. I sort of ducked down in my seat because I was so worried someone would see me."

Luckily, it wasn’t too long before the police arrived, followed by Paul to collect the bike. The van was unlocked and there was only minor damage.

Mina added: "I think I was fuelled by adrenaline and the fact that bike thefts keep happening."

Trackers are worth the money

This experience has underlined to Mina the importance of trackers, whose own Triumph Bonneville T120 and Suzuki Gladius are both fitted with the devices. "It costs £10-per-month to get it monitored. I wouldn’t be without mine and without his, Paul wouldn’t have got his bike back. Even if the police hadn’t turned up, the tracker meant that I got the reg of the van and could have reported that."

If you don’t have a tracker fitted, maybe it’s time to think about getting one!


Be careful what you post online: Scammers target social media groups set up to help victims

First published on 28 April, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Stolen motorcycle post on social media

If your motorbike is stolen these days, the first port of call after the police is often social media. Getting the word out can mean that thousands of bikers keep an eye out for it on selling sites or around their local area.

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If it gets spotted, legit groups such as Biker Biker can sometimes even go and recover your bike for you. Unfortunately, the scammers and bike thieves can also use take advantage to target the victims of bike crime and even claim previously stolen bikes as their own.

"In the past, people would post the location of a suspected stolen vehicle they found," explained Sarah Baptiste, one of the admins on the UK Motorcycle Theft Protest UK Facebook group.

"The owner will be in the group or groups, see the post and be thrilled that someone found it. Sadly, we cannot trust everyone that calls us friends. Thieves now see the location and say, ‘yeah that’s mine, was stolen a few days ago, blah blah blah’ and collect it.

"So, I strongly encourage people to firstly report suspected stolen bikes to the police as they can track and contact the rightful owner using their internal database. Never post the exact location of a vehicle that you suspect is stolen.

"Also, the police may want to take a bike or scooter for forensic analysis as we know stolen vehicles are often involved in other crimes like shootings, stabbings, drug runs, muggings and snatching mobile phones."

Example of scam message sent to victim

Another grim tactic to watch out for involves criminals who get in touch after a victim posts that their bike has been stolen in a group.

Baptiste has seen several examples: "They befriend the owner and try to convince them to pay a fee - anything from £150 to a few hundred with a promise they can trace their vehicles via the ECU or other means - even if there is no tracker fitted. I heard of one recently that claimed to be able to trace a car via its radio antenna system!"


Violent thugs who used threats and weapons before two-wheeled getaways put behind bars

First published on 22 April, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Martin Delaney (rider) and Andy Kiasuka-Kiakanda

Long sentences have been handed down to a group of thugs who used violence and intimidation during a string of robberies in London.

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During one incident on Wednesday, 10 April, 2020, the pillion passenger on a moped forced a machete through a gap in a car window, narrowly missing the victim before chasing them into a garden and forcing them to hand over a Rolex watch.

One of the eight, Jordan Northover, was also involved in another attempted watch robbery using a motorbike as the getaway vehicle. The victim in this case stood their ground and was able to escape.

Four members of the gang also attempted to rob a car using an iron bar and tried to smash the window. What they didn’t know was that the occupants of the car were undercover police officers running surveillance on the gang’s activity.

All eight members of the gang

Patrick Delaney (30), Martin Delaney (29), Kiaron Jones-Hewitt (27), Andy Kiasuka-Kiakanda (26), Cheyenne Cato (27), Ryan Leurs (19) and Steven Barton (20) were sentenced to a combined total of over 100 years for the offences.

"The way this gang targeted their victims and threatened them with weapons during their crime spree was truly shocking and abhorrent," said Detective Sergeant Gary Taylor from the Flying Squad. "The impact these crimes have had on the victims cannot be understated.

"These defendants wrongly thought they wouldn’t be caught. However, Flying Squad officers were able to close the net on these robbers and bring them into custody after a proactive surveillance operation.

"I would like to praise the victims for supporting this prosecution, and I hope these convictions will go some way to giving them some comfort. Across London, officers are working hard to keep the public safe by identifying people involved in serious violence and bringing them to justice."


Lock up after lockdown: Fears that thieves will cash in on riders getting out and about

First published on 16 April, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Motorcycle disc lock

Bikers’ rights organisation the Motorcycle Action Group are urging people to ‘lock-up after lockdown’ as changes to restrictions mean more opportunity to get out and ride.

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Official bike theft numbers for 2020 are still being totted up, but early figures suggest that it dropped by as much as 60% from 2019. This was largely thanks to the pandemic meaning  motorcycles were tucked away in garages more, and more owners were at home all day, but as many of us whip the covers off our bikes post-lockdown, the thieves will have more opportunities and there are fears that theft numbers could rise sharply.

"We would all like to think that the 2021 motorcycle theft figures will remain low, but that is probably an unrealistic expectation," said MAG’s Director of Campaigns and Political Engagement, Colin Brown. Many riders will have used their motorcycles far less during 2020, but with the end of restrictions in sight that situation is bound to change.

MAG leaflets urge owners to lock up after lockdown

"MAG will continue to campaign for more secure parking facilities, and increased focus from police forces, but of course we need to be sure that owners also take security of their bikes seriously."

As well as campaigning at a ministerial level for more secure bike parking, MAG will be pushing their ‘Lock it or Lose it’ leafleting and also their ‘Lock 2 Lock’ initiative which urges riders to loop their security chain through that of another machine in locations where no secure rails are provided.

Brown added: "We should not become complacent, and new riders will need to be educated about the most effective security choices available. The simple message is to lock up your bike when parking in public spaces."

MAG say they will be publishing the 2020 bike theft stats by police force area as soon as they have all the latest data.


Met crackdown: Big wins for Police in fight against moped-enabled crime

First published on 7 April, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Alfie Atherton and Reed Roberts

The Metropolitan Police had a very busy few days at the end of March foiling moped-enabled robbers and securing prison sentences for members of an organised drug network that used motorbikes and scooters for their deliveries.

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First, on March 25, officers made an arrest in connection with a series of moped-enabled robberies in South West London in October 2020. Officers from the Met’s specialist Operation Venice team were deployed over several weeks before the phone of a victim led them to three men, one of whom was arrested.

Then on March 26, six members of a sophisticated Brazilian drugs network were sentenced to a combined total of over 51 years in prison for using motorbikes and scooters to deliver Class A, B and C drugs.

As part of the operation against them, officers recovered more than 2000 litres of the drug GBL worth more than £2.2m, which was the largest quantity of the substance ever seized.

And finally, on March 27, 2021 two men who stole more than £40,000 worth of cash and perfume during a series of robberies in the West End before using a moped as a getaway vehicle were jailed for 18 years.

CCTV footage of a raid involving Atherton and Roberts

Alfie Atherton, 29, of Tower Hamlets and Reed Roberts, 30, of Islington were convicted following an investigation by the Met’s Flying Squad.

"Atherton and Roberts caused chaos in the West End, even threatening and using violence, in their bid to steal cash and high-value goods," said Detective Constable Lenny O’Keeffe, the investigating officer from the Flying Squad.

"Atherton even caused more than £45,000 worth of damage to two stores when he attempted to steal even more expensive goods.

"They soon discovered that crime does not pay and thanks to the investigative work by the Flying Squad, they will instead be spending a lengthy period of time behind bars."


See the LiteLok: Brit firm claim world’s lightest ‘flexible’ Gold-rated security

First published on April 1, 2021 by Ben Clarke

LiteLok Core

Lightweight bike security specialists LiteLok have come up with an improved version of their Sold Secure Gold standard motorbike lock and chain. The new version is called the Moto Core and, while sharing the same features as the existing Moto 108, it’s been completely redesigned.

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Rather than a traditional chain, the LiteLok comprises a belt made from the firm’s own Boaflexcore Plus material and an inline, hardened steel lock body. Boaflexcore Plus is a 24mm thick belt made from multiple layers.

Starting from the outside, there’s a braided sleeve for abrasion resistance, then a bonded plant-based polymer, which provides the first line of defence from cutting tools and also prevents corrosion.

The third layer is made from a 19mm interlocking hardened steel exoskeleton, which absorbs destructive energy during an attack and encases the final high tensile steel core layer.

LiteLok Core exploded diagram

The locking mechanism is made from hardened steel with an energy-absorbing stainless steel structure that is resilient to attacks, including -40°C freeze spray and hammer/chisel blows. Finally, a pick-resistant lock clicks the belt closed. As with the previous incarnation, two locks that use the same key can purchased together and either linked or used side-by-side.

The outcome of all of this design and technology is a portable lock that weighs just 2.5kg (125cm length) but still achieves the Sold Secure Gold rating for motorcycle security. Traditional security chains that make the grade typically weigh more like 6kg.

The new LiteLok Moto Core is available to pre-order until Saturday, April 18 on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter with introductory prices starting at £110.

Production at scale is planned for next month with deliveries starting in May. At the time of writing, the project has raised almost £160,000 against a target of just £25,000.


‘Heartless’ bike thieves locked up: Violent assailants jailed for theft as fourth dies fleeing scene

First published on March 24, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Birmingham bike thieves jailed

Three men have been jailed for their involvement in the theft of a motorbike in June 2019. A fourth man was killed as he rode away on the victim’s machine and had a head-on collision with a car.

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Nirvair Lall, Inderjot Singh, Aaron Dhaliwal and the fourth man pushed their 31-year-old victim off his Honda CBR600 and assaulted him at Barr Beacon Park in Great Barr, north-west of Birmingham in summer 2020.

A 19-year-old man made off on the motorbike followed by the other three in a Ford Fiesta before the collision just up the road in Pheasey. After stopping briefly at the scene of the crash, the men were seen running back to the car and leaving.

Lall and Singh, both 21, later returned to the scene of the accident and were identified by witnesses. They were arrested along with Dhaliwal, 22, the registered keeper of the Fiesta.

L-R Dhaliwal, Lall and Singh

At sentencing on Friday, March 12, 2021 Judge Richard Bond described Lall’s actions as ‘cold and heartless’ after he fled the scene ‘clearly knowing it was serious as someone was delivering CPR’.

"That was in stark contrast to the victim, who despite having been beaten and robbed, still asked a witness about the condition of the deceased. The victim showed more concern, than you did for your own friend," the judge added.

Lall denied his involvement but was found guilty after a five-day crown court trial. He was jailed for three years and six months. Singh changed his plea to guilty at the start of the trial and was sentenced to three years and one month, and Dhaliwal, who pleaded guilty to the offence, received two years and four months.

Detective Sergeant Kerry Haywood told MCN: "This was a tragic outcome for a young man to lose his life even though a crime had been committed. His friends not only have to serve a sentence, but have to live with the circumstances of his death."


Humberside Police turn to DNA tech in fight against motorcycle theft and crime

First published on 18 March, 2021 by Ben Clarke

PC Chris Mashford with warning sign

Police in North East Lincolnshire have become the latest to adopt DNA spray in the fight against nuisance motorcycle riding, along with the related crime and antisocial behaviour.

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The spray carries a unique code and UV marker which can be used as evidence to tie a suspect to a specific time, place and potentially stolen machine when building a case. The solution is almost impossible to wash off and is invisible to the naked eye.

"This is another really good example of work we are doing to reduce the number of motorbikes, mopeds and quads ridden unlawfully in our area," said Inspector Martin Hopper, leading Operation Yellowfin in North East Lincolnshire.

"Having spoken to many of our local residents we know it’s an area that really concerns them and we are committed to tackling this issue. Introducing this new technology will contribute to reducing anti-social behaviour and criminal activity and will, most importantly, reduce the nuisance caused to our communities.

How Selecta DNA tagging works

"One of the key roles of our local Neighbourhood Policing Teams is to be out and about in their communities and support those riding their motorbikes and mopeds in accordance with the law."

The force is also calling on members of the public to make it as difficult as possible for bikes and quads to fall into the wrong hands. Inspector Hopper added: "If you have a motorbike or moped, we would encourage you to invest in a good quality lock and always ensure your motorbike is out of public view and securely locked away.

"This DNA spray is just one more step in tackling the crime and antisocial behaviour caused by nuisance motorcycles and we continue to look at innovations and ways in which to reduce the impact of anti-social riding of motorcycles."


Drone wars! Police and bike thieves take the battle to the skies

First published on 10 March, 2021 by Ban Clarke

Off road police team and drone

Police in England, Wales and Scotland have reported seeing drones in the air when they have been recovering stolen property – including motorbikes. It is believed the unmanned aircraft are being used to check there are no officers in attendance or surveillance nearby before the thieves return to recover stashed vehicles.

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In one recent instance, Essex Police were able to locate a drone pilot near to the location of a stolen digger. The drone equipment was impounded before officers discovered that the vehicle the pilot was using had also been stolen.

But it’s not only the bad guys who have been taking to the air. Police in Nottinghamshire have made use of drone technology combined with off-road bike teams on the ground to tackle illegal off roading in the county.

The eye in the sky was deployed in the Watnall area as part of an operation that resulted in two warnings being issued and more operations are in the pipeline according to offficers.

Off road police team on patrol

"We have more dates planned for the future to tackle this type of activity which we know is causing a lot of misery within our local communities," said Alison Bryan, Neighbourhood Policing Sergeant for Broxtowe North.

"With the lighter nights and better weather we have seen an increase in reports in relation to people using off-road vehicles who show little or no regard for the laws of the road, the damage they cause or the threat they pose to members of the public in this popular walking area.

"Nottinghamshire Police has seized and crushed bikes as part of previous off-road biking operations, including vehicles being ridden illegally in the Watnall area.

"We hope this sends out a clear message that once we’ve identified offenders we will utilise all of our powers to take action which could ultimately end up with their bikes being crushed," concluded Sgt Bryan.


New Super Soco is super secure: Bargain scooter shows big brands how anti-theft tech is done

First published on 4 March, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Electric specialists Super Soco have unveiled a new scooter called the CUmini. The 50cc scooter equivalent is now the smallest model in the firm’s range with a 28mph top speed, 600W motor and removable battery. Not exactly earth-shattering so far, but things start to get interesting once you look at the new machine’s security measures.

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That’s because the CUmini features an alarm, real time GPS location and the scooter’s movement history via your smartphone as standard. That’s right, despite being the runt of the Super Soco litter, it has the sort of security tech that some £20k+ bikes can only dream of.

So, how does it work? Owners of compatible Super Soco machines simply need to download the smartphone app to see the current GPS location of their bike. They can also power it on or off, check the movement history, see the battery level and range, run fault diagnostics and – if the model has built-in cameras – turn them on too. No price has been set but the CUmini is expected to cost under £2000.

Super Soco CUmini app

Very few conventional machines come with trackers or other devices, which is why the Motorcycle Industry Assocation (MCIA) has created a scheme to rate bikes on a scale of one to five to make it easier for buyers to know how secure they are.

"Crime hasn’t gone away, so MCIA welcomes any initiatives that combat theft," says MCIA representative Nick Broomhall. "Additionally, the MCIA Secured programme allows buyers to compare the standard fit security kit on bikes and scooters from a range of brands, so it’s easy to check how well protected your next bike is."

Super Soco aren’t part of the scheme so far, so there is no rating available.


Police launch bike amnesty to stop thugs getting their hands on unloved machines

First published on 24 February, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Operation Yellowfin bike amnesty

Humberside Police have taken a novel approach to tackling antisocial riding by asking people to surrender any old and disused motorbikes, mopeds and quads.

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Nuisance machines ridden illegally in public spaces are one of the most common concerns for people living in the North East Lincolnshire area, according to a recent survey. Police say the illegal riders are often involved in other crime and they hope getting unused machines out of circulation will reduce the scale of the problem.

"It is quite common for old bikes to be stored in sheds, garages or even gardens," said Inspector Martin Hopper, who leads the area’s motorcycle crime taskforce Operation Yellowfin.

He said the bikes are then vulnerable to theft and end up being ragged around roads and open spaces, which is why it makes sense for there to be an amnesty for unwanted vehicles.

A motorbike seized by Operation Yellowfin in Lincolnshire

"This surrender service will also help responsible parents who are concerned about the risk to their children and may wish to dispose of such vehicles," he said. "We don’t want to be criminalising and prosecuting young people, but if they break the law, action will be taken."

Anyone in the region who has an old bike they no longer want can call the police and arrange for officers to take it away. The scheme was introduced in January 2021 and four machines were surrendered for collection in the first week alone.

Inspector Hopper added: "We remain committed to tackling this issue, with activities aimed at reducing anti-social behaviour and criminal activity which will reduce the nuisance caused to our communities."

Operation Yellowfin was launched in 2018 to address the crime associated with motorbikes ridden illegally off-road. Dozens of stolen machines have been recovered or seized as a result of the initiative and offenders have been caught and dealt with.


Police pursuit ends in jail term for no-licence lockdown-buster on bike with cloned plates

First published on 18 February, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Declan McCalla

West Midlands Police have released footage showing the reckless behaviour of a criminal during the first lockdown last year.

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Declan McCalla sped through residential streets clocking up to 90mph in 30mph zones, ran red lights, mounted pavements and performed what officers called "shocking overtakes" but failed to lose the marked police bikes giving chase. He came to the attention of the police after reports of a rider doing stunts in the streets.

McCalla also rode the wrong way around several roundabouts before heading across football pitches where the eight-mile pursuit came to a crashing end. Ditching the bike, the 25-year-old made a run for it but was later found hiding in a porch.

The white Yamaha MT-07 McCalla is seen riding in the video had cloned plates that matched an orange bike registered in the Preston area.

He later admitted dangerous driving and riding without a licence or insurance for which he was handed a 14-month prison sentence at Wolverhampton Crown Court earlier this year.

"The standard of McCalla’s riding was truly shocking; he ramped up pavements and sped across public parks. He could easily have put pedestrians at risk of serious injury," said Traffic Sergeant Mitch Darby.

"But it was all the more outrageous given that we caught him during the middle of lockdown. People were being urged to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives – but McCalla used the quiet roads to ride at excess speed."

"Anti-social off-road biking is a real concern for our communities. We’ve responded by running operations to catch offenders and they will continue throughout the summer. Anyone who rides dangerously – or rides an off-road bike illegally on public roads or in parks – runs the risk of being arrested and having their bike seized and crushed," Sgt Darby added.


Bike theft pair put behind bars: Thugs threatened recovery agent to re-steal scooter

First published on 11 February, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Alfie Bruynel caught on camera performing a wheelie

Two criminals have been sentenced to prison thanks to the Met’s Operation Venice. Alfie Bruynel, 20, and David Curtis, 20, both from London, had previously pleaded guilty to a number of crimes, including vehicle theft.

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In one particularly brazen incident in April last year, the pair re-stole a Piaggio they had previously taken as it was being recovered. Once the police had left the scene, Bruynel and Curtis threatened the recovery agent and made off with the scooter.

But officers from the Venice team were able to construct a case using CCTV evidence.

Each of the men had racked up a sizeable list of offences by the time they were arrested. Curtis was stopped riding a stolen BMW R1200GS while carrying an angle grinder and hammer in November 2019. Bruynel was identified doing wheelies on a stolen Vespa in March 2020.

Both were spotted loading a stolen Ducati into a van in April 2020 and were arrested when the tracker on a stolen Vespa led police to their location in May of the same year.

Alfie Bruynel (left) and David Curtis

"This is an excellent result that puts two criminals behind bars," said PC Kate Dennell, the investigating officer from the Venice squad. "Both have committed multiple crimes and this kind of behaviour has no place on our streets.

"The effects of becoming a victim of theft often last far beyond the replacement of the stolen items. I hope both of these men use this time to realise the impact that their crimes have on the people of London."

Bruynel was sentenced to a total of two years’ imprisonment, as well as an 18-month driving ban, at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Tuesday, January 5.

Curtis was sentenced to a total of 12 months’ imprisonment at the same court on Friday, January 22. Curtis was also in breach of a suspended sentence and has been sentenced to a further three months in jail - to run consecutively.


Warning: New trend sees thieves steal dash units from parked bikes

First published on 4 February, 2021 by Ben Clarke

BMW R1250GS TFT dash

A worrying new crime has emerged whereby thieves target the thin film transistor – or TFT – instrument panels on high-end motorbikes and scooters. MCN has been made aware of several cases on BMWs including the C400 scooter and R1200/1250GS models.

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In the case of the GS, the problem is commonplace enough that several aftermarket security firms now make products to protect the screens.

We spoke to one victim of TFT theft who had the instrument panel from his BMW C400X scooter taken while he was at work. "I had my Yamaha MT-07 stolen and recovered three times and I thought the scooter would be less desirable to thieves," said Luis Costa, 39, from London.

"I bought the BMW, I fitted a tracker and an alarm and I spent £200 on two disc locks. Then, the first time I rode to work I came back to discover the TFT had been stolen while I was parked."

Stolen BMW C400X TFT dash

When Costa shared his experience on Facebook, he was surprised to discover that other owners had the same issue. "One person said that he had tried removing his own TFT panel to see how easy it was and found that putting it back was the hard bit. It’s just held in place by three rubber fixings, you don’t have to damage the bike to get it off."

The TFT screen is a £615 extra on the C400X, but Costa has been quoted £1200 to replace the unit, and that’s provided there is no damage to the wiring. He added: "BMW need to do more. They just say this is a matter for the police and my insurance."

MCN contacted BMW Motorrad UK and they provided the following statement: "We are aware of a small number of incidents involving the theft of TFT displays. We take security very seriously and we are investigating this in more detail. As always, we encourage riders to deter any thieves by parking in a secure location, using a bike cover where possible, and fitting an anti-theft alarm and tracker to their motorcycle."


Volunteer group recover stolen one-off Triumph Scrambler custom

First published on 21 January, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Thornton Hundred Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE Image: Thornton Hundred

Crime-busting group, Stolen Motorcycle Recovery London (SMRL), managed to recover this custom Triumph after it was stolen in the SE1 area of the city earlier this month.

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Luckily, the Scrambler 1200 XE was fitted with a BikeTrac unit, which meant it could be found quickly and returned to its rightful owner – proving just how valuable trackers can be in the fight against theft.

"We were struggling but used some of the kit we carry for BikeTrac equipped bikes, as well as a fair amount of detective work to locate the bike hidden away in Greenwich," said a post on the SMRL Facebook page. "The owner came to collect and, needless to say, he was very happy to recover his one-of-a-kind bike!"

The Thornton Hundred Triumph is described by the custom builder as the world’s first wide wheel Scrambler 1200 XE. Using 3D scans of the donor bike, Thornton Hundred were able to design and build custom components such as the carbon mudguards and numberplate holder, along with adding a custom high-level exhaust and a selection of Triumph Bobber components to create the end result. No wonder the owner was so delighted to get the bike back!

That wasn’t the end of the day’s work for SMRL though, as a second Triumph was discovered in a part of Greenwich often used to stash stolen machines.

Second Triumph recovered by SMRL in one day

With the help of the Met Police, the owner of the second bike was contacted. SMRL added: "A massive thank you to those who have assisted in providing intel via our social channels and website - it always gets actioned even if we’re snowed under."

BikeTrac units use a combination of GPS, GPRS and GSM as well as radio frequency signals that allow stolen bikes to be tracked with a high level of accuracy. The firm claim a recovery rate of 94% over 10 years, equating to £10m worth of motorcycles being recovered.


Hampshire Police will chase suspects on bikes says senior officer

First published on 21 January, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Tactical contact used to stop a suspect

Hampshire Police have come under fire after a social media post said that they do not chase suspects on motorbikes because it is too dangerous – and now a senior officer has stepped in to tell MCN they will chase suspects.

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The original statement, which appeared on the Southampton police Facebook page, said: "Hampshire Police do not currently pursue motorcycles for a number of reasons. The main one reason being that by pursuing these riders, their actions and driving becomes a lot more dangerous and reckless, placing not only themselves at a higher risk, but also the general public."

The post, which has since been deleted, went on to describe the ways in which motorbike theft is dealt with by the force and the tools at their disposal, including ANPR cameras and CCTV.

Southampton Cops Facebook post

It’s not the first time the force has gone public with such a claim. In April last year there were complaints about youths riding illegally in Southampton and a representative told the Southern Daily Echo: "We have had incidents where both members of the public and police officers have been knocked down by motorcyclists in the Southampton West area. As such Hampshire police will not authorise a pursuit under these circumstances."

Then in August, a suspect who failed to stop in connection with a shooting in Andover was pursued and died at the scene of an accident.

Now Chief Inspector Ricky Dhanda has told MCN that they will pursue motorcycles, if it is safe to do so: "On occasion officers will not pursue motorcycles due to the inherent dangers that the motorcyclists pose to themselves, the police and members of the public. 

"If, however, circumstances are such that it is considered safe and proportionate to carry out a pursuit, this will be authorised. We take all allegations of crime seriously and investigate."


Sniffing out trouble: Dogs join the search to help police track down stolen bikes

First published on 8 January, 2021 by Ben Clarke

SelectaDNA search dog in action

Sniffer dogs have been trained to seek out metal tagged with DNA markings, which could help police find stolen motorbikes much faster.

DNA spray has been used for a few years now in the fight against bike crime, with excellent results. Officers use a special canister to tag a rider and their machine with a liquid that is almost impossible to wash off completely and carries a distinct DNA signature. Forensic teams can use the presence of this liquid on a suspect’s clothing or skin to tie them to a specific motorbike and place, which is invaluable when building a case.

Now SelectaDNA, the firm behind the tech, say they’ve worked with Search Dogs UK to train dogs to seek out the markings. They’ve already helped the Met Police with the Operation Ferrous campaign, which resulted in more than 10 arrests, a scrap yard closure, the recovery of £4600 of Thames Water cable and 50kg of BT cable. Now they say the concept is ready to be rolled out to bikes.

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"Complementing existing police search procedures, the SelectaDNA search dogs are able to sniff for stolen metal in places like scrap yards, and stolen property during search warrants, where forensic markings are not immediately visible to the human eye, even with a UV light," say the firm.

"As humans, we can only search in 2D - in the line of sight - but dogs can search in 3D by using their nose. They can be incredibly accurate and can pinpoint their target to within a couple of centimetres, at which stage police can use traditional search techniques like UV lights to take samples or identify the unique SelectaDNA code."

Motorcycle crime expert and Met Police consultant Dr Ken German is optimistic about the technique, adding: "Specialist dogs can be trained to locate many things from drugs, human remains to Sim cards, so using them to sniff out stripped or cut up motorcycles that have covert markings would clearly assist in volume police searches."


New police off-road squad includes title-winning enduro rider

First published on January 1, 2021 by Ben Clarke

Ellie Cooke and the team from the new squad

Bike criminals in North Yorkshire who think heading away from the tarmac will help them evade the police are in for a shock as there’s a new off-road team on the block, and they’ve got a multiple enduro and sprint champion among their ranks.

Like many areas across the UK, North Yorkshire has seen a rise in reports of anti-social behaviour and crime associated with bikes. This year the force received more than 100 calls about incidents linked to off-road bikes between April and July alone and say that it affects both rural and urban communities as well as fragile local wildlife.

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North Yorkshire Police prepare to tackle off-road motorcycle crime

To fight back, the new team of four officers will ride Honda CRF250L motorbikes and will look to engage with off-road bikers to educate where they can and enforce the law when required. They can also use their specialist skills to access hard-to-reach areas, search for missing people, tackle rural and wildlife crime, deter cross-border criminality, and support community events.

The team includes PC Ellie Cooke who – as well as being a police officer – was the 2019 British Ladies Enduro Champion, and the British Ladies Sprint Champion in 2019 and 2020.

"When I heard about the off-road motorcycle team, I knew that this would be the perfect role for me, as I could transfer my off-road riding skills into work," she said. "I knew from a young age I wanted to be a police officer, and there is nothing better than being able to do the job I love while riding a motorbike! I am looking forward to my new role in the team, and I am excited to see what we can achieve together."

Inspector Kevin Kelly, who developed and implemented the team, added: "Completion of this project has come about through partnership working with South Yorkshire Police, who have helped with training and mentoring, and the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner who provided funding for safety kit.

"The team is now in a position to support a range of policing operations in urban and rural areas – from busy town centres to remote National Parks. I know they will make a real difference in our communities."


Armed and dangerous: Seven years for Leicestershire bike criminal

First published on 17 December, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Nikodem Iwaszko

A man has been jailed for seven years after police linked him to lock-ups and garages across Leicestershire where five stolen motorbikes, two stolen cars and a cache of weapons were found.

Nikodem Iwaszko, 21, was found guilty of six counts of possessing a prohibited firearm, possession of a firearm without a firearms certificate, possession of ammunition without a certificate or authority and six counts of possession of criminal property following a trial at Leicester Crown Court.

Iwaszko had tried to distance himself from the properties by providing false details but the police managed to gather enough evidence to prove otherwise and secure a conviction.

"This was a detailed operation following information received which involved a considerable amount of teamwork across East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) to recover the firearms and vehicles and to secure sufficient evidence to charge Iwaszko," said Detective Chief Inspector James Avery of EMSOU.

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"Thanks to this intense work, numerous firearms have been prevented from falling into the wrong hands and a dangerous individual has been brought to justice."

The illegal items, which included three sawn-off shotguns, a handgun, a self-loading pistol, a stun gun and ammunition as well as the stolen vehicles were all recovered following warrants executed by EMSOU at two garages - one in Kenilworth Road, Wigston, and one in Langford Way, Leicester - as well as at Iwaszko’s home address in Cross Street, Wigston.

When arrested, Iwaszko denied the offences but evidence gathered by officers linking him to the items led to the convictions with police work being commended in court. He was sentenced in November having previously pleaded guilty to five counts of possession of criminal property.

EMSOU is a unit of police officers and staff from across the East Mids who support the Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire forces.


Fuellish teen guilty: 180mph rider caught at the pumps awaits court sentencing

First published on 9 December, 2020 by Ben Clarke

The moment Dragoi was arrested at a fuel station

A teenager from London has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, failing to stop for police, driving a motor vehicle without a licence, and driving without insurance after a 180mph pursuit through four counties.

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Marian Vasilica Dragoi, 19, was eventually arrested at a service station - where he stopped to refuel after riding the wrong way on the M1 - on suspicion of theft of a motorcycle. Dragoi turned out to be the rightful owner of the bike, but it was displaying a false number plate and he had no licence allowing him to ride it.

Officers from Operation Venice were dealing with an unrelated incident in May when Dragoi and a number of other riders cut across their path. During the following pursuit Dragoi was clocked riding at speeds of 70mph in a 20 zone, running red lights, riding on the wrong side of roads and on pavements.

The National Police Air Service helicopter was called in when the police cars lost sight of him and he was subsequently clocked at 150mph on the M1 in Hertfordshire and 180mph in Bedfordshire. Officers were able to swoop in and make an arrest before Dragoi managed to fill up at the garage forecourt.

Dragoi using an M1 slip road the wrong way

"At one point of the pursuit, Dragoi went straight through every single red light he was confronted with, rode on the wrong side of the road in his attempts to get away and even mounted pavements," said arresting officer, Sergeant Tony McGovern, from the Met’s Operation Venice Command.

"Throughout the pursuit, he continued to ride in a dangerous manner, and he only had the NPAS helicopter tracking him - without any police vehicles on the ground anywhere near him. He failed to stop for police and put the lives of other road users into serious danger.

"Our highly trained Operation Venice officers are out on the streets of London every day fighting moped, scooter and motorbike enabled crimes and I hope this case acts as a deterrent to anyone considering such erratic behaviour on our roads."

Dragoi will be sentenced at Wood Green Crown Court on January 14 next year.


Bikers warned: Don't drop your guard

First published on 3 December, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Bikers warned not to drop their guard

The Motorcycle Crime Reduction Group (MCRG) have urged bikers not to be complacent about theft despite positive stats  released during lockdown. The Office for National Statistics reported a 35% drop in crime during lockdown back in August  and Police National Computer figures suggest as much as a 45% drop in motorcycle theft against the same period last year. But MCRG members are advising caution because they say many thefts are not included in these stats. 

"Feedback from members suggests that the national figures do not give us the full picture on motorcycle theft," the group said in a statement.

"The national vehicle crime nor vehicles which are not registered with the DVLA, such as off-road bikes. 

"Businesses that monitor and recover bikes fitted with trackers are anecdotally reporting increases in thefts. The success and increasing numbers of trackers means that stolen bikes are often recovered quickly, and thus never get added to the PNC."

The Motorcycle Crime Reduction Group is a partnership comprising representatives from rider interest groups, the insurance and security industries, motorcycle manufacturers and retailers, the police and with links to the Home Office. While an increase in the uptake of trackers is a positive outcome and the more bikes that can be recovered, the better, it’s worth bearing in mind that every motorcycle recovered has to have been taken in the first place and could have been damaged in the process. And if you don’t have a tracker fitted then this statistical improvement doesn’t apply to you and so you should be just as careful as ever to make sure your pride and joy stays safe.

  • Park in a busy spot in the day
  • At night, if away from home,
  • park in a well-lit area
  • Vary your parking place
  • Use a motorcycle parking bay with an anchor point
  • Use a ‘Secured Car Park’
  • Lock, chain and cover your bike when it is parked
  • Keep the lock and chain off the ground
  • Set an immobiliser and alarm
  • Keep it out of sight at home
  • Use an approved GPS/VHF/RF satellite tracking system

Police target hooligan gang after off-road riding thugs cause chaos

First published 25 November 2020 by Ben Clarke

Police target hooligan gang after off-road riding thugs cause chaos

South Yorkshire Police’s Off Road Team have given local law-breakers a nasty shock. Officers originally foiled an attempt by a criminal gang to bring Sheffield to a standstill on Halloween at the end of October. Now, video from the event has led police to a location in the Darnall area of the city where they sought a search warrant for stolen vehicles.

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More detail of the Halloween chaos has also come to light, including reports of dangerous riding. Police believe that around 30 off-road bikes and quads were being ridden illegally around the Manor area of Sheffield. Officers responded, backed-up by support from the National Police Air Service fixed-wing aircraft.

Across the afternoon, 11 machines were seized, five people arrested and another five reported on summons.

"Our communities tell us that off-road bikes are a problem and we understand the nuisance and fear they cause," said Roads Policing Sergeant Matt Duffy. "This type of behaviour will not be tolerated in South Yorkshire and we will use all powers available to us to bring the offenders before the courts."

Some suspects are still being sought by the police, including a man who was dressed as a clown during the Halloween rideout. He allegedly fled the scene of a collision on a motorcycle. South Yorkshire Police have issued the following statement: "On Halloween, a man - dressed as a clown - was riding as part of a group of illegal off-road bikers across Sheffield and Rotherham.

"At 12.26pm, an off-road bike is said to have been involved in a collision with a grey Fiat Punto on Ashpool Close, Woodhouse. The rider fled the scene.

"We’d now like to speak to the man in the costume, as we believe he can assist with enquiries. If you have any information or dash-cam footage featuring this clown, please call 101 quoting incident number 407 of October 31, 2020."


New tech threat: Warning as thieves turn to using cameras

First published on 18 November, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Thieves are using nature cameras to case properties

Motorcycle crime expert and Met Police Consultant, Dr Ken German, has warned that motorcycle thieves may be using wildlife cameras to case their victims’ properties.

"Spy cameras similar to those seen on television capturing images of animal activity at night have been found on suspects believed responsible for burglaries and stealing motorcycles," he said.

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"These cameras, many of which can be camouflaged, would be strapped to a tree or fence with the intention of establishing when householders are not at home in order to break in or steal their machines. The thieves retrieve the camera when they go in for the bike."

The only way to combat this is to be extra vigilant and keep an eye on any posts, trees or fences that overlook your property. Dr German also says there is some suggestion that the cameras are installed after a tracking device is first used to find out where you live, so keep an eye out for any devices stuck to your bike, too.

The criminals aren’t the only ones turning to camera tech, though. Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Police have been trialling a live stream video system called GoodSAM which turns any smartphone into a surveillance camera linked to the police station.

Instant-On-Scene allows the public to live stream an incident directly to the police control room along with their precise location and there’s no need for an app, either.

Officers can also use the system to stream their own video to HQ or to each other and even drone footage can be integrated.

Callers who dial 999 have to give consent to GoodSAM before a stream is started which, together with rigorous risk assessments, ensures that no-one is ever placed at increased risk by sharing video footage. This means that members of the public who see a crime being committed, for example the theft of a motorbike, can simultaneously call the police and provide video evidence.


Fright night for stolen machines: Police tackle illegal rideout activity on Halloween weekend

First published on 11 November, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Seized machines from Halloween 2020 in Sheffield

October 31 has become a popular date for so-called rideout gangs to terrorise the streets of towns and cities in large numbers, attempting to cause enough disruption with their activity to bring urban areas to a standstill. 2020 was no different but one force in Sheffield fought back and then posted a slightly tongue-in-cheek retort on their own social media account.

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The sheffcity_rideout_gang posted to their Instagram account on Sunday, October 18 to advertise their Halloween rideout. They invited as many people as possible to attend the event on October 31. The post read: "Let’s show them how Sheff City really shut it down."

But a post from South Yorkshire Police Off Road Team the following day suggested that activities didn’t go as planned.

"Well Saturday was certainly an interesting day watching the cream of sheffcity_rideout_gang fall off and crash into each other," said the post, which was accompanied by a host of images of seized motorbikes and quads.

"These elite next generation MXGP and MotoGP riders must have been put off by tricky conditions which affected their usual smoke the cops abilities."

Rider stopped and arrested in Sheffield

The post goes on to say that 12 quads and bikes were recovered, six of which had been stolen, and five arrests were made.

"These fun seeking riders that have no affiliation to the sport or bikers in general were left looking pretty silly. Your bikes and quads have been seized you are not getting them back, even the ones that were not stolen.

"For the two quads SYP Operational Support aircraft and team chased for over two hours from Sheffield to Rotherham, one of which was a 69-plate quad stolen recently. The reality, looking at the footage, is jail time – even with our justice system. Worth it?

"For the others caught disqualification, fines and maybe a loss of income. Sheffield was not shut down!"


Police team up with filling stations to starve bike criminals of petrol

First published on 5 November, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Police officer with filling station worker

Motorcycle thieves who "make life a misery for their community" are about to run out of gas. Officers from Northumbria Police’s Operation Benelli, the specialist task force fighting motorcycle theft and related crime in the north east, have teamed up with petrol stations to target motorcycle thieves and antisocial riders.

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The theory goes that those riding bikes which have been stolen, associated with crime or not road legal, will be more likely to fill up jerry cans than risk riding onto a garage forecourt with all its CCTV and ANPR. Officers also found that underage teenagers had been buying fuel for their bikes or asking adults to do it on their behalf.

So, the police are asking local garages to ask for proof of ID of anyone buying fuel in this way and also ask what the fuel is for. This information will be recorded and the police will use it to make sure they are targeting the right areas.

"That list will also provide us with an opportunity to identify any other unusual patterns of behaviour and ensure the fuel has been purchased for a legitimate reason," said Sergeant Paul Cook, of the Gateshead East Neighbourhood Policing Team.

Filling station poster

"By working with local businesses, and our Operation Benelli team, we are already seeing results and have reduced disorder in Gateshead. That work will continue and we hope our efforts will reassure residents in our region that we are committed to targeting individuals who make life a misery."

The force hope that stopping the thieves from obtaining fuel will deter them from stealing bikes in the first place, but it also helps them to build evidence. If someone who they know doesn’t legitimately own a motorbike is regularly buying fuel in a can this can feed into investigations.

Posters displayed at garages will explain the scheme to members of the public. Although there is no legal obligation for customers to provide their info, the garages can refuse service to those who fail to.


Forces continue campaign against two-wheeled criminals

First published on 29 October, 2020 by Ben Clarke

West Mercia officers seize illegal bikes

Police in two different parts of the UK closed out September with great results in the fight against bike theft and associated crime.

Firstly, a crackdown on illegal off-roading in Telford led West Mercia Police to seize four motorbikes in the Rough Park area of the town.

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The action followed reports that riders were illegally using pathways and bridleways leading to the park, as well as riding in the park itself, causing considerable danger to walkers and horse riders.

Officers from Cleveland’s Op Kick Start

During a day of action, four bikes that were being illegally ridden or used in Rough Park were seized and one man was arrested for dangerous driving.

"Put simply, illegal off-road motorbike riders are putting people’s lives in danger by using pathways and bridleways and it must stop," said Telford South Safer Neighbourhood Team Sergeant Richard Jones.

"It is illegal to ride an off-road motorbike or quad bike on public land and private land without the owner’s permission and those caught doing so could face having their bike seized and crushed. Rough Park is a natural habitat and needs to be protected, however, at the moment considerable damage is being caused to the land."

Police have been canvassing local schools to raise awareness of the dangers of illegal off-road riding. They have also been reminding fuel stations that it is illegal to sell petrol in jerry cans to youths.

Meanwhile, Cleveland Police seized six vehicles including three bikes they suspect to be stolen in Stockton. The day of action, which also included the seizure of £10,000 worth of suspected cannabis and several arrests, was part of Operation Kick Start.

Sergeant Gary Cookland said: "We’ve seen some examples of reckless driving of illegal off-road bikes and this simply won’t be tolerated. We will take swift action against anyone who disregards the law."

A reader poll result on crushing bikes


The long paw of the law: South Yorkshire Police use canine power against bike crime

First published on 21 October, 2020 by Ben Clarke

PD Luna with recovered helmets

South Yorkshire Police have had plenty of success in beating bike crime with their dedicated off-road motorcycle team. But this week, it’s a furry member of the force in the form of Police Dog Luna who’s been leading the charge against motorcycle theft.

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"Yesterday our Dogs and Roads Policing team went hunting for a suspected stolen motorbike seen bombing around the streets causing grief for local people and road users in Sheffield," revealed South Yorkshire Police Operational Support.

"The riders often have no regard for the safety of other people, riding on pavements, footpaths, and across parks, and it can be very difficult to safely pursue these people, but thankfully we are bit smarter than them!"

Officers in patrol cars tried several times to pursue the suspects but were unable to follow them when they went off road, so a different approach was needed. PD Luna and handler, PC Matt Aris, were deployed to patrol the woods and cut off another escape route.

The suspects were surprised by the police dog’s presence and ditched the bike, along with their helmets. PD Luna found one of the suspects (who cannot be named due to his age), and he was arrested. Police say the bike will be returned to its rightful owner as soon as possible.

The force’s off-road team have been keeping busy, too, including having to ‘steal’ back a stolen motorbike.

Community intelligence led officers to a BMW R1150GS in the Low Edges area of Sheffield which was displaying a false number plate and turned out to be a stolen machine.

A video on the South Yorkshire Police Off Road Team’s Facebook page shows police using an angle grinder to cut through the security chain fitted to the bike in order to retrieve it – effectively using the same technique as thieves but for a rather more legitimate reason.


Newcastle Police give bike crime the shove - literally

First published on 16 October, 2020 by Ben Clarke

PC Adam Fegan makes arrest

Bodycam footage has been released of the moment PC Adam Fegan surprised a teenage bike thief and pushed him off a stolen scooter before making an arrest. The 17-year-old had taken the Honda PCX125 from outside a care home in Whitley Bay without realising it had a tracker fitted.

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The owner reported the theft to police who found and confronted the thief, who can’t be named due to his age. He panicked and fled on the Honda, leading police on a chase across Newcastle that also involved a police helicopter.

PC Fegan anticipated the escape route the teen would take and can be seen in the video leaving his car on foot to lay in wait, crouching behind a bush. His gamble pays off and as the thief rides through the area on a footpath to try to escape, PC Fegan jumps out and pushes him off the stolen scoot before placing him under arrest.

On Wednesday, September 30, the teen appeared at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court where he admitted the theft of a motor vehicle, dangerous driving, driving without a licence and without insurance.

The 17-year-old was handed a 12-month driving ban but also locked up for 18 months at a youth detention centre.

"This reckless teen endangered the lives of countless road users and pedestrians aboard a stolen motorcycle that he treated like a toy," said PC Fegan.

"It was vitally important that he was stopped before he seriously injured himself or others and so, after anticipating his route, I raced to find a suitable hiding place and waited to pounce.

"I hope this serves as a reminder to those who take what is not theirs to take and for those who believe they are above the law – that us officers will do everything in our power to keep the people of Northumbria safe."

The investigation was conducted by Operation Benelli – a specialist task-force dedicated to targeting motorcycle crime across the region and putting offenders before the courts.


Nine years for killer on stolen scooter

First published on 8 October, 2020 by Ben Clarke

A man who rode a stolen scooter recklessly through Coventry before fatally punching a witness who challenged him has been jailed for nine years.

James Rowley, 21, was seen speeding through residential streets, jumping red lights and mounting pavements on Tuesday, March 17. He then began tearing up grassland, which is when he was approached by care manager Thady ‘Joe’ Higgins.

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Mr Higgins urged Rowley to stop as there were children walking nearby but Rowley responded by revving the bike’s engine – the spinning wheels showering Mr Higgins and a friend with dirt – before flooring his victim with a single punch. Mr Higgins died from his injuries in hospital the following day.

Rowley initially claimed that he had acted in self defence, telling police in interview that he was the "softest, nicest guy you ever come across" but West Midlands Police gathered video evidence from CCTV and social media that contradicted his story.

This included footage now made public of the moment he got into an argument with the driver of a car after nearly causing an accident at traffic lights. Rowley later changed his account and admitted manslaughter and dangerous driving. He was jailed at Leamington Justice Centre.

"Joe grew up in the area and didn’t like people disrespecting his community," said Detective Inspector Jim Colclough who also described Mr Higgins’ death as tragic and senseless.

"Witnesses describe him approaching Rowley politely; he wanted to convey his concerns for the danger he posed to people. Some witnesses described seeing Rowley laughing and dancing [while wearing] the victim’s hat after the fatal punch. Rowley’s violence was witnessed by several children in the street.

"He lay low for two days before handing himself in. The judge said he spent the time ‘planning the lies he was to tell the police in interview’."

MCN poll


‘I wouldn’t let them take it’ - Dealership owner chases scooter scum to retrieve bike

First published on 30 September, 2020 by Chris Dabbs

Paul Reek charges the suspected thieves and they run away

When a passing cyclist came into Gambier Reeks dealership on Putney Bridge Road in Fulham in September, to tell them that one of their customers’ bike was being stolen, Paul Reeks had only one thought: "They are not getting that bike."

The bike was an almost new Yamaha TMax 500 worth £11,000 that Reeks, 55, was preparing for an ex-pat customer in Austria.

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"It wasn’t about the money, the guy is living with cancer, and he was really looking forward to getting out on two wheels again on his own bike. In fact it was due to be picked up at any time, which is why it was parked right outside the shop and didn’t even have a steering lock on it. It meant it was easy for them to ‘pipe push’ it up the road."

The cyclist said they’d gone two roads down and turned left. There was no sign of them, but Paul’s local knowledge meant he had a good idea of the route they’d use, so he returned to the shop and set off on a Yamaha YBR125 that was in for a service.

"Now I was on the hunt, and I had seen stuff going off about half a mile away under a railway bridge, so I followed that route."

The thieves were using another TMax and sure enough, both bikes were on the pavement in the shadow of the bridge, while the pillion rider used a claw hammer to smash some panels off and hot-wire the bike.

"I tried to ram him on the 125, but he jumped out of the way and I circled round into the road to have another go, which is when he came at me with the hammer," says Paul. "I was lucky I was on the YBR with its great steering lock. If I’d been on a bigger bike that geezer would have hit me."

By now the following cyclist had caught Paul up and the commotion meant that several other people were gathering. "Four or five builders had heard all the commotion and they and the cyclist started to move in towards them too, so the scum decided to do a runner."

The damage was limited to £250 for the panels, and the bike has gone to its rightful owner.


Operation Venice 'Scorpion Squad' chase down suspects

First published on 24 September, 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

Officers out and about on modded BMW F750GSs

Class A drugs and a meat cleaver are the latest seizures by motorcycle-mounted police officers from Operation Venice, the Metropolitan police squad set up to fight moped and two-wheel related crime in London.

First pressed into service last year the 'Scorpion Squad', the name for Venice’s motorcycle-riding officers, have had big success in recent weeks, having found drugs in a stop and search of a fleeing moped rider, then in a separate incident, a knife and meat cleaver.

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In the first, officers in Bethnal Green aboard specially-equipped BMW F750GSs pursued a silver Honda moped after it made off through a red light. According to the police, the moped rider rode at excess speed on the pavement and the wrong way down one-way streets, as well as through further red lights.

Knives and meat cleavers were recovered

After trying to escape on foot in a park the rider was detained. He claimed he did not know the officers were police. Checks revealed the moped had false registration plates and was uninsured.

The rider was arrested for these offences as well as dangerous driving, failing to stop for police and aggravated taking and driving away of the moped. He was also riding without a licence.

When a police dog was called to the scene a white plastic tub was found containing 26 wraps of white powder. The man was then further arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs.

That same day officers were called to reports of an attack at Mile End Park involving a large knife and a meat cleaver. Scorpion riders conducted a search nearby and a group of six teenagers who matched the description of the suspects were detained and searched.

One of the suspects was found to have a large meat cleaver in his waistband and a large kitchen knife was found in a drawstring bag. A 26-year-old male was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon.

Sergeant Tony McGovern from Operation Venice, said: "Our units are deployed across London every day to disrupt drug supply and remove weapons from unsafe hands by stopping criminals from using motorbikes, mopeds and scooters to commit crime."


Land of the free, home of the safe: Stats show US riders lose a bike to thieves only once every 50 years

First published on 17 September, 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

A motorcycle being stolen

Despite recent advances in the war against bike theft, the UK is still massively lagging behind other countries including our pals over the other side of the pond.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) in America have just published their latest statistics on how many motorcycles were stolen in 2019, coming in at just over 40,000 bikes. That’s down from 46,000 a little more than four years ago. Good for them, you might think.

The UK has also had successes in reducing bike crime – based on whose stats you use (because our way of reporting motorcycle theft is notoriously patchy) our overall bike theft peaked in recent years at just over 38,000 and it’s now believed to be down to around 28,000.

That seems alright until you take a closer look at the numbers. There are in the region of 1.2 million motorcycles on the road in the UK (that are taxed and insured), compared to around 8.8 million in the US.

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That means in the US, there’s a 0.45% chance your bike will be stolen in a given year. Whereas in the UK, there’s a 2.3% chance – nearly five times as bad. Things get worse once you factor in what happens after the theft, too.

Again, the stats vary depending on type of bike, location (and who you ask!) but recovery rates in the UK hover around 20%, so of the 28,000 bikes stolen per year just 5600 will be recovered.

Fitting a tracker massively increases the likelihood of recovery and the stats don’t tell us how many of the recovered bikes were fitted with the devices, but if you take that into account the chance of getting a stolen bike back without a tracker is slim.

Compare that to the US though and it’s a different picture, where over half of all stolen bikes are returned. So that 0.45% chance of losing your bike each year is closer to 0.23% when you factor in recoveries. That means cumulatively, Amercian riders would need to ride for nearly 50 years before losing a bike to a thief, compared to 20 years here in the UK.


Humberside Police crack-down on thefts and dangerous riding

First published on 10 September, 2020 by Ben Clarke

 Officers have been getting on top of the theft menace

Humberside Police’s bike crime taskforce, Operation Yellowfin, have already taken dozens of unsafe bikes off the roads by seizing them and destroying them – and now they’re teaming up with local councils and a housing association to keep the momentum going.

Officers have also been engaging with the biking community by stopping law-abiding riders for a chat about security and what they can do to keep their motorbike out of the hands of criminals.

"I will not tolerate the lives of residents being disrupted by nuisance bikes on our roads, parks and residential areas," said Neighbourhood Policing Chief Inspector Paul French. "I know that this is an ongoing issue and one which I would like to reassure our residents we are making a priority to tackle.

 Many machines are in bad state

"We are increasing patrols in known crime hot-spots but realise that others experience problems too and we always want to be called about these issues so we can deal with them before they become bigger and more serious.

"We know we’ve still got a lot of work to do, but what I will say is that our work to tackle motorbike crime and the crimes related to it won’t stop. Making our communities safer for everyone."

The team’s social media profiles are documenting the work they do, including examples of the dangerous bikes they are encountering. One moped rider was stopped for having no insurance and officers discovered it had no fuel cap, a loose rear wheel and faulty brakes.

To support their mission, the force are appealing for information about where stolen or nuisance bikes are being stored. Local residents are urged to call the non-emergency 101 number and quote Operation Yellowfin with any information they have.

North East Lincolnshire Councillor Ron Shepherd, responsible for safer and stronger communities, added: "I’m wholeheartedly in support of Operation Yellowfin. The theft and antisocial use of motorcycles can terrorise neighbourhoods, cause thousands of pounds worth of damage to people’s property and put lives in danger.

"Council officers work closely with Humberside Police and where possible we will use our extensive powers to punish criminals without pursuing costly criminal proceedings."


Biker Biker going global: volunteer bike recovery group get set to expand operations

First published on 3 September, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Biker Biker are going global

New branches of the London-based stolen motorcycle recovery team, Biker Biker, are opening across the UK including Kent, Southampton, Sheffield and Scotland. The newest addition to the fold is Leeds, but now they’re setting their sights further afield to America, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and India.

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"After we spoke to MCN last year we had a real surge of exposure," said Shane, the founder of Biker Biker. "I ended up going on LBC radio to talk about bike theft and the work we do. After that I was invited to a virtual event with guys from all over the world and they were saying, ‘Hey we need this in Canada and America’ and I just thought, ‘Yeah, why not?’.

"We’ve found a guy to work with on the East Coast of America and we’re working on the others now, too. It’s just a case of finding people you trust not to try to behave like vigilantes and give us a bad name."

Staying on the right side of the law has been at the core Biker Biker since the start. Shane is clear to point out that the group are not interested in going after thieves, they just want to give the victims of crime their bikes back.

The van Biker Biker use for recoveries

"We’ve managed to get a van on the road now, which is amazing," he adds. "It cost less than a grand and it was a bit rotten here and there but we’ve fixed it up and got a ramp thanks to the generosity of the biking community."

The van means that the London group no longer have to wait for a third-party recovery truck, they can just scoop up stolen machines as soon as they have confirmed that the bike has been nicked.

You can now become a subscriber to Biker Biker on Facebook and donate £3.49 per month. This money will go towards Shane’s next project. "I want to keep a stock of locks, chains, alarmed disc locks, lever locks and covers to lend people when we give their bikes back.

"These people have often had their security destroyed when the bike was nicked and this will stop the thieves having an easy job of taking the bike back again."

Hunt for owners

Biker Biker have two bikes they can’t give back because they don’t know whose they are. A Honda VFR800 they have has been resprayed and is in a bit of a sorry state, but the insurance never paid out so it still belongs to the owner.

They also have a Suzuki V-Strom in a similar situation. If the bikes are unwanted, Shane would like to use them for promotion or donate them to a local college but he can’t do anything until he tracks down the owners. If you have any idea who the owners are then get in touch with them on Facebook so they can be given back.

Recovered Suzuki V-Strom


Watch: Operation Venice arrest dangerous moped rider after tactical contact

First published on 27 August, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Met Police use tactical contact

Operation Venice, the Met’s motorcycle crime task force, have released a video of the moment they used ‘tactical contact’ to stop a suspect who later pleaded guilty to dangerous driving at Croydon Magistrates’ Court.

23-year-old Kyren Bryce of Hilsea Street, Hackney, cut through a park to avoid police during a pursuit in April. In the short video clip taken from the dashcam of a police car, Bryce can be seen leaving a side road, narrowly missing a marked police car.

With a police motorbike following, he then tries to ride around the camera car but it cuts across his path using the contact to bring the chase to an end. The police motorcyclist then approaches Bryce on the ground to ensure he cannot pick up the moped and carry on. At this point he can be seen putting his hands up in surrender.

"The riding displayed showed a complete disregard for other members of the public’s safety and also fell far below the expected standards of a safe and competent driver," said Sergeant Tony McGovern, one of the Op Venice officers in the pursuit. "Bryce not only put his own life at risk, but also the lives of innocent members of the public for no reason."

Officers were patrolling the area in central London following reports of a number of scooter-enabled robberies over a 24-hour period involving a suspect on a grey machine. They saw Bryce riding a vehicle that matched this description along Kings Road, SW3 but as they turned around to stop him, he made off.

Kyren Bryce

Bryce hit speeds topping 70mph in residential areas as he tried to get away. He also ran red lights, overtook on solid white lines and cut across pavements and the park (which was being used by members of the public).

Op Venice officers in a marked police car were authorised to use a slow-speed tactical contact to bring the chase to an end and they took their opportunity on Brixton Road. Bryce was taken into custody and charged the following day before pleading guilty on Tuesday, 18 August. He will be sentenced at a date yet to be confirmed.


Dishing the dirt: off-road police squad in South Yorkshire leave nowhere for criminals to hide

First published on 18 August, 2020 by Ben Clarke

South Yorkshire Police off and on road officers

South Yorkshire Police’s Off Road Team have been making great use of a recent increase in group numbers and are already seeing results.

Having been joined by seven officers from various districts back in May, the unit has seen a dramatic reduction in emergency calls about nuisance off-roaders.

"In April, our force’s control room received 1190 calls for reports of nuisance off-road bikes," said Sergeant Matt Duffy. "This was reduced in June to 166 following amazing work carried out by officers. The reduced level of calls is testament to our communities feeling reassured that we are taking positive, pro-active action.

"Officers worked extremely hard, in hot weather for long hours to achieve these results. During May and June, they made 11 arrests, one in connection with a family being deliberately driven at by a man on a quad and those involved in large-scale crop damage on farmland."

South Yorkshire Police off road team

The team have also recovered 49 illegal or stolen bikes in that time with a combined value of £90,000 as well as reporting 12 people on summons and issuing 102 warnings. If riders are caught again following their warning, their bikes will be seized.

But the hard work doesn’t end there as two team members, PC Palmer and PC Bellwood, have now become drone pilots, unlocking another powerful weapon against this kind of crime which is already yielding results.

On Sunday, August 7 they responded to complaints from residents near Mill Hill Road and a piece of land near to J5 on the M18. The team disrupted a group of 15 people riding illegally and seized a Beta RR and KTM EXC450 that had their VIN numbers removed.

They then went in search of a Suzuki DR250 the drone had seen earlier, which was located and also recovered on suspicion of being stolen as the VIN and engine numbers had also very recently been tampered with.

Can you help?

As part of their ongoing efforts, South Yorkshire Police have released images of a number of riders they wish to talk to regarding incidents involving off road bikes, quads and other vehicles in the area. You can view the gallery on the force’s Flickr page here.

There are currently 26 images of people being sought for reasons including criminal damage, motorbike theft, failure to stop and antisocial riding along with details of how you can get in touch if you can help. Let’s get ’em!


No escape from the dreaded crusher: seized bikes destroyed and displayed in local town centre

First published on 12 August, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Bike crushing in Corby, Northamptonshire

Police have gone through with their threat to crush seized motorbikes and display the results in Corby town centre. MCN spoke to Superintendent Kev Mulligan earlier this year about the plan to take repeat offending, unroadworthy or stolen bikes with no obvious owners off the road for good.

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Now, a video on the Northamptonshire Police Twitter account shows the vehicles being loaded into a crusher before a cuboid of mangled metal is lifted onto a truck destined for an awareness event.

"What we’re doing here today is crushing a number of bikes that have been seized by our officers as part of a campaign to get rid of some of these nuisance vehicles that are travelling across the county and are a clear danger to the public and other road users," said Chief Constable Nick Adderley.

"My message is clear, if you want to use an off-road motorcycle, get the land owner’s permission, do it in a safe way, do not go on the public highway and if you do, expect to be caught. Over the last two years we’ve had over 1800 incidents reported to us where off-road motorcycles, or the illegal use of motorcycles has blighted communities."

The bikes were only crushed if they were deemed unroadworthy, were stolen and had no obvious legitimate owner, or they had a rightful owner but the owner had been issued with previous antisocial behaviour notices as a result of using the machine with the threat of it being destroyed.

Cuboid of crushed seized motorcycles

Superintendent Mulligan added: "Nuisance motorcycling might seem like harmless fun to the riders but their behaviour causes real misery and anxiety to residents and we won’t stand for it. People shouldn’t have to live with this kind of behaviour happening in their local area.

"We hope that last week’s display sends a clear message to our communities that we are listening to their concerns and acting on them and that this kind of behaviour won’t be tolerated.

"To those that might be tempted to ride in this way: We will catch you, seize and crush your bike, which will then leave you out of pocket. Please resist the urge to ride illegally and you will save money and save getting a police record."


DNA spray gives law a longer arm: Notts Police get new tool to tackle anti-social off-roading

First published on August 5, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Sergeant Colin Morley

A Nottinghamshire police force has become the latest to employ DNA spray technology in the fight against illegal off-road riding. Forces in the West Midlands and the North East have already used the technique, which involves tagging offenders with an invisible DNA solution, producing positive results.

Police in the Ashfield district of Nottinghamshire were concerned by an increase in crime and antisocial behaviour caused by people driving off-road vehicles across local farmland and local beauty spots.

"Stopping and apprehending people on off-road motorcycles is very difficult so we’ll be using this new tool to rebalance things in our favour," said Sergeant Colin Morley. "Very often we have a really good idea who offenders are, but we struggle to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was them at a particular time and location. This spray is an absolute game-changer for us as it will now allow us to prove that beyond doubt.

"A good example of how we may use this involves people riding on the road on bikes with no number plates. It’s almost certain that these bikes are also not taxed and are uninsured, but the only way for us to apprehend the rider at the moment is to catch them in the act, which can be difficult when they are riding a high-powered motorcycle capable of escaping off-road.

"With this new tool we can simply spray them from the patrol car – safe in the knowledge that we’ll at least be able to catch up with them later on."

Illegal off-roading in Nottinghamshire

Residents in the Nottinghamshire town of Ashfield have made it clear that the illegal use of off-road motorbikes is a real concern and is putting the lives of those who wish to use outdoor spaces legitimately at risk. The police have listened and are determined to tackle the issue.

Inspector Mark Dickson, who is responsible for neighbourhood policing in the Ashfield district, added: "It is totally unacceptable behaviour and I am delighted that we now have an additional tool at our disposal to catch those responsible. And people can be assured that we will seize bikes, we will fine people and will do our very best to ensure that they are prosecuted for all the offences they have committed."


New commuters urged to lock up: Met uses tactical contact vid to warn new scooter owners

First published on July 30 by Ben Clarke

Police use tactical contact

The Met Police have released a new video montage of suspected bike criminals being knocked off stolen vehicles by officers using tactical contact. The video is intended to raise awareness of bike theft among the growing number of new moped and scooter owners who have ditched public transport in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Moped and scooter registrations were up over 40% for the month of June this year and the Met want to make sure that these new riders take the security of their new vehicle seriously by showing the situations that stolen mopeds and scooters can end up in.

"Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Venice have been busy during lockdown tackling criminals using scooters and ‘PTWs’ (powered two wheelers) to commit a number of offences," said PC Clem Jones.

"In some ways, lockdown has been hard for criminals; instead of them being able to mix with the crowd, officers have been able to spot them more easily, making their lives harder."

PC Jones gave this advice for new scooter riders: "Ensure you check parking before you leave, especially if you are driving into central London or busy town centres. Try to look for a bay with a ground anchor, if you can. Always park in a well-lit place.

"Remember to layer up your security. Following our Lock, Chain, Cover advice can help to protect your scooter or PTW from thieves, making their lives harder and helping us to keep scooter theft down."

Lock, Chain, Cover is the Met’s campaign aimed at improving two-wheeled theft and security awareness. A bike or scooter is stolen in London every hour.

"Officers from Operation Venice have worked hard to reduce theft over the last year, but we need the help of vehicle owners to drive this down further," said Chief Inspector Jim Corbett.

"Using additional security reduces the chances of your bike being stolen, which is reduced even further if multiple measures are used. We’re asking owners to assist us by layering security - lock, chain and cover your bike."


London lags behind: New bike theft figures show capital is twice as bad as other hotspots

First published on 24 July by Ben Clarke

London ranks worst for bike theft

The number of bikes being stolen dropped slightly across England, Wales and Northern Ireland during 2019 according to the latest annual report complied by the Motorcycle Action Group.

The report says that data taken from the Police National Computer shows that an average of 19 bikes were stolen per 1000 registrations in 2019, compared to 22 per 1000 the year before.

MAG also made Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to each force area in the UK and the best performing areas were found to be North Yorkshire, Dyfed-Powys and West Mercia each with a score of three bikes stolen per 1000 registrations.

London still ranks as the worst area with a score of 87 per 1000. That equates to one in every 12 bikes on the road in the capital and is almost twice the theft rate of the next worst performer (West Yorkshire).

Meanwhile, MAG have questioned the accuracy of the data given by the Met in the FOI requests. MAG analysed the force’s 2018 vehicle theft reports and found that the number of stolen bikes was actually 15% higher than the number returned in the FOI response.

"The accuracy of entries for make and model is poor," said the report’s author Colin Brown. "Just one example was a Yamaha YS125 being recorded with Ford as the manufacturer.

"Obviously Ford don’t make motorcycles. Interrogating the theft entries for motorcycle thefts, all Fords would be filtered out from a search. Errors like this thus lead to an under-reporting of motorcycle thefts."

The Met Police were unable to provide a comment to MCN.

This year, MAG received responses from all but six forces. Those who didn’t supply data were Greater Manchester Police, Hampshire Police, Police Scotland, South Wales Police, Thames Valley Police and Wiltshire Police.

Brown added that pressure on secure parking facilities for bikes and scooters in Britain’s towns and cities was risking a crime epidemic as people start to return to the commute post-Covid.

He said: "We can implore owners to lock their bikes, but without the secure parking facilities, owners will face far greater issues with securing their motorcycles than before."


New crackdown in garden of England: Kent cops recover stolen bike and target antisocial riding

First published on July 15, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Kent police seize a motorcycle

Police in Dover tasked with reducing antisocial motorcycling have seized four bikes so far including one that is suspected to have been stolen last year. The Dover Community Safety Unit (CSU) proactively targets and disrupts those who ride antisocially and has so far issued 24 Section 59 warnings since April. If those riders are stopped again for being a nuisance within a 12-month period, their vehicle can be seized and impounded.

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The area is just one of many up and down the country working proactively to stamp out illegal and antisocial riding on roads, pavements and public spaces. The ongoing Kent project is called Operation Fielding and includes days of action ‘targeting those who commit crime and disorder’.

"We understand the concerns reported to us regarding nuisance motorbikes in the area and it is not tolerated," said Kent Police Inspector Fred McCormack of Dover Police. "CSU officers led by PC Maria Redgwell have been working hard to respond to reports made to us and they will continue to carry out patrols across the district with the aim of disrupting those responsible for this anti-social behaviour.

"We are grateful to members of the public who have reported these incidents and encourage them to continue reporting to help inform the action we are taking."

The latest seizure was made after a rider was approached by a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) in Aylesham, Kent and is suspected to have been stolen in Deal late last year.

Motorbike seized by Kent Police

Cllr MJ Holloway, Dover District Council’s cabinet member for community safety, added: "This is part of a wider operation dealing with motorbike nuisance across the district, in particular noise over weekends and during the evenings.

"DDC will be working with Kent Police over the coming summer months to clamp down on anti-social behaviour involving motorbikes, which causes a real nuisance for local communities."

The force has also produced a poster telling the public how to report nuisance motorcycling including a list of behaviours to look out for. This includes; speeding/racing, illegal manoeuvres, dangerous driving, loud revving and careless driving. It advises that a description of the bike and rider should be taken along with the road and direction of travel but also asks people to ‘respect those who ride sensibly’.

What is a Section 59 warning?

Section 59 refers to the Police Reform Act 2002 and applies to "vehicles used in manner causing alarm, distress or annoyance". A constable in uniform has the power to stop a rider if they are driving in a careless or inconsiderate manner, or off roading where it is illegal to do so. A warning is normally given the first time a person is stopped but if they are stopped again, the vehicle can be seized and impounded (even if it is a different vehicle this time). The rider can also be fined up to £1000.


Crushing defeat: Tough new approach will see destroyed bikes displayed in town centre

First published on July 8, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Superintendent Kev Mulligan from Northants Police

Police in Corby, Northamptonshire, are taking the bold step of crushing confiscated bikes and using the resultant cube of metal as a warning to those who continue to ride illegally.

The area has seen a spike in the dangerous use of pit bikes, mopeds and motocross machines in public spaces during coronavirus lockdown and it is hoped this new tactic will help to curb the practice.

"It’s important to make it clear that the bikes we’re crushing aren’t the motorcycles of law-abiding riders," said Superintendent Kev Mulligan from Northants Police. "These are not bikers, there’s a difference. These are people, primarily youngsters but not exclusively, who are riding on unroadworthy bikes 99% of the time that are either stolen or so dangerous that it beggars belief.

"Our obligation when policing this issue is first and foremost centred around community safety, to the safety of those legitimately using woodland trails, community open spaces and parks.

"Secondly, it’s about the local residents and businesses who are pestered and having to suffer from the practice taking place on their doorstep.

"But it’s also about the safety of the riders of these machines because in a lot of cases there’s no real awareness of the consequences if they have an off."

Seized motorcycle headed for the crusher

The bikes are only crushed if they are deemed unroadworthy, are stolen and have no obvious legitimate owner, or they have a rightful owner but they’ve been issued with previous antisocial behaviour notices as a result of using the machine with the threat of it being destroyed.

The crushing itself was originally planned as a public event, but due to restrictions on mass gatherings the decision was taken to film it and then display the cube of mangled machinery outside The Corby Cube municipal building in the town.

Superintendent Mulligan added: "Some are seeing the lockdown as a perfect storm for this activity, but we’re seeing it as an opportunity to get positive. While it’s absolutely right that we take a strong hand in this sort of crime, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the opportunity to engage with individuals so that they potentially become responsible bikers or drivers when they’re able to, either through age or by gaining a licence."

Is antisocial riding on the rise?

"This is an annual issue with peaks and troughs," explained Superintendent Kev Mulligan. "We usually see spikes in the summer while the schools are on holiday and around Christmas because people receive these sorts of bikes as presents so it has a seasonality, and police across the UK never lose sight of it.

"The coronavirus pandemic meant an extended period of time when the people who engage in this activity were given free rein in empty public spaces and at the same time there have been lots of residents at home seven days a week to see it happening, film it and report it."


Bike criminals busted by police crackdown

First published on 2 July 2020 by Ben Clarke

Motorcycles seized in Northumberland

A police taskforce targeting bike thieves and antisocial riders has reported huge success. The unit was set up to combat a spike in bike theft as lockdown measures eased.

Officers were also determined to clamp down on activity where a bike or moped was used to commit a crime after a surge in reports of teenage thieves targeting bikes left on driveways and in car parks across Northumbria. There were also reports that armed offenders were resorting to violence to take bikes by force.

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Summonses have now been issued to offenders and 14 bikes have been seized, two of which are suspected to have been stolen.

"The officers who have been working hard on this for the past six weeks have been phenomenal," said Neighbourhood Inspector Phil Baker.

"They have listened to the concerns of residents, identified where disorderly motorcycle riding has been taking place and then they have targeted those areas accordingly.

 "It is community policing at its best and has yielded some fantastic results. A number of individuals riding the motorcycles have been summonsed to court and residents across South Shields are satisfied with our activity."

Motorcycle seized by police

The special project is part of Operation Benelli, a team of experienced and specialist officers who review every incident where a bike has been used as part of a crime and try to spot patterns of behaviour.

Victims are also spoken to in a bid to build up an intelligence picture of those involved in the crimes. Antisocial riding is a blight on communities and can make the lives of those who have to put up with it a misery as well as being a real danger to people looking to use open spaces, parks and pavements legitimately.

Stolen bikes often go on to be used in further crimes and tracking down antisocial riders has led officers to discover drugs, weapons, money and other stolen property.

Sergeant Fran Joyce, who oversees Operation Benelli, added: "We continue to monitor those patterns of behaviour. A lot of this is teenagers riding at speed on their bikes and causing a nuisance but often these same individuals are involved in serious criminality.

"We won’t tolerate theft or violence in our communities and if we suspect individuals are involved in criminality we seize their motorcycles and they could end up before the courts."

Cops seize vans too

Police in Manchester have been targeting anti-social riders and have started to seize vans used to transport the machines causing the nuisance.

Officers have the power to seize vehicles being used in an anti-social manner if they are causing, or likely to cause alarm, distress or annoyance or contravene section 34 (prohibition of off-road driving/driving other than a road) of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Greater Manchester Police seized a branded work van at Bickershaw country park along with several bikes. Imagine explaining that to your boss!


Operation Venice: A day in the life of a Met bike crime cop

First published on June 25 by Jordan Gibbons

Operation Venice officers stop a suspect

Met Police have given details on what a typical shift's work is like for Operation Venice – the specialist unit set up in 2017 to combat motorcycle theft and moped-related crime. Since then, there has been a drop of 70% in some parts of London, but sadly their work is far from over.

Details are now emerging of what took place over the May Bank Holiday, with many people stopped despite the country already being in lockdown. The evening shift got going at 7pm and only half an hour later officers arrested a man in Camden for riding a motorcycle dangerously.

The 28-year-old from Lambeth was later charged with dangerous driving, riding without insurance, failing to stop for police and driving a vehicle otherwise than in accordance with a licence.

Just over an hour later, officers in a marked car in N17 saw a scooter travelling in the opposite direction that they then stopped, with a view to establishing the rider's identity. The rider initially provided false details but Op Venice officers are prepared for this and carry mobile fingerprint scanners.

The rider's details were checked and they did not match those of the scooter owner; the owner was then contacted who informed the police he had not given the rider permission to ride the bike. Upon searching under the seat, officers found a quantity of drugs, while more were found on the rider.

Operation Venice officers find items inside scooter

The rider was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs, possession with intent to supply Class B drugs, theft of a motor vehicle, driving without insurance and driving a vehicle otherwise than in accordance with a licence.

Three hours later, officers stopped another man in W2, arresting him on suspicion of drink driving and of driving without insurance.

Speaking about the evening, Sergeant Tony McGovern, from the Met's Operation Venice's Scorpion Unit, said: "My officers were out in force over the Bank Holiday primarily targeting moped-enabled crime.

"However, we are also on hand to disrupt those who are using the roads to commit criminality, drive at extreme speeds and who drink and drive. In doing so, these people's actions increase the risk to their own safety and that of other road users."


Plain-clothed officers to be armed with anti-theft spray

First published on June 22 by Ben Clarke

DNA spray will be used as part of Operation Swift in Northumberland

Officers working as part of Operation Swift in Northumberland have been given a boost in their battle against theft and anti-social riding in the district.

Plain clothed officers now have DNA spray canisters to tag offenders and the bike they are riding with a uniquely coded UV solution.

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This can later be used as evidence to prove the suspect was involved in a specific crime and tie them to any vehicle used. The technique has already been used successfully in neighbouring South Shields, Gateshead and Newcastle. Investigations have revealed that many of the bikes being used illegally on the streets, pavements and parks of Northumberland are stolen.

"We know this type criminality can be of huge concern and I want to reassure the public that we do take it seriously," said Neighbourhood Inspector Neil Hall, one of the officers overseeing the operation.

"We have spoken to members of the community on this particular issue and are committed to working with partners to ensure anybody who does flout the law and brings misery to our residents is appropriately dealt with.

"There may be some who think these are just bored teenagers who have nowhere suitable to ride their motorcycles, but that is not always the case. Many of the individuals have been involved in serious offences and a lot of the machines are actually stolen.

"That's why we are committed to taking a proactive approach in tackling this with plain-clothed and uniformed officers regularly on patrol in identified hotspot areas. The spray is a fantastic piece of kit which has already proved to be effective elsewhere."

Last year, Northumbria Police launched Operation Benelli, a specialist task-force who review every crime where a motorcycle has been used to commit an offence or where a motorcycle has been stolen. It has had a number of successes with hundreds of stolen bikes seized, dozens arrested and a number of convictions.

They will be working alongside neighbourhood teams across the Force to tackle this type of crime and target patrols where they find patterns of criminality. Officers are keen to keep the momentum going and stamp out the problem all together.

Insp Hall added: "DNA spray is just one of our methods. We will also be looking at preventive measures including engaging with those involved to educate them."


Zero tolerance policy sees Hull police recover stolen machines

First published 15 June 2020 by Ben Clarke

Stolen motorcycles have been recovered by Hull police

Police in Hull discovered a treasure trove of stolen motorbikes after forcing entry to a property in the Holderness area of the city.

Included in the haul, which was part of an investigation into reports of stolen bikes being stored, were two bikes taken in 2017.

The discovery of a total of five pilfered machines comes against a backdrop of zero tolerance in Humberside as Chief Constable, Lee Freeman, vowed to create a hostile environment for criminals during lockdown.

Police in Hull have adopted a zero tolerance policy

"People have been staying at home and they have lost the opportunity to commit offences because of that," he said. "We have a responsibility to respond and tackle criminals who will be looking for opportunities to commit crime."

Although the force's five-week period of action, called Operation Galaxy, is intended to concentrate on the broader issues of theft, burglary, sexual offences and organised crime, at least one further motorbike has already been seized as a result.

Antisocial motorbike offences such as illegal off-road riding are also in the crosshairs as local residents complained of the 'daily problem' of people riding dangerously in public parks and on the roads and pavements.

"I want to take this opportunity to appeal again to the few young people who take their vehicles off road or ride in an anti-social way, please consider your actions," said Chief Superintendent Darren Downs of Humberside Police. "Riding this way causes frequent issues to local residents and can cause serious injury to you or others.

"We have been working hard recently to tackle the issues of illegal off-road bikes, of motorbike theft and related crimes and the anti-social use of motorcycles. Over 20 motorbikes have recently been seized as we continue Operation Yellowfin to specifically target these problems.

"If you know of where stolen bikes, scooters, mopeds are being stored, either in lockups and garages please let us know.

"The information you provide could help prevent crime and could prevent someone being seriously injured."

Since that warning was issued a nine-year-old boy was seriously injured after being hit by an off-road motorbike in a local park. A man was later arrested.


Northamptonshire Police take delivery of two Ducatis

Northamptonshire Police have taken delivery of two unusual police bikes in the form of a Ducati Panigale V2 and a Supersport S.

The bikes, which are to be used solely for public engagement purposes, were delivered to the force's headquarters at the end of May with special Police and BikeSafe liveries.

Superintendent Kev Mulligan said: "We are very grateful to have Ducati UK as one of our partners. When we go to BikeSafe events, riders are much more likely to talk to us when we ride bikes that interest them!"


Prison for 100mph bike chase criminal

First published 5 June 2020 by Ben Clarke

Corey Briscoe-McLeary led police on a 45-minute chase

A man who led police on a 45-minute chase through London on a motorbike has been jailed for eight months and disqualified from driving for 18 months.

Corey Briscoe-McLeary, 38, of Janson Close, NW10, was finally brought to a halt when a stinger was deployed by officers from Operation Venice, but not before he had clocked speeds of up to 100mph in 30mph zones and mounted pavements.

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Briscoe-Mcleary was brought to the attention of Op Venice officers by the National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter operator after the crew saw him riding at speed and acting suspiciously. He entered Brent Cross shopping centre car park briefly before heading north on the M1 into Hertfordshire.

"I have been a police officer for 15 years and the manner of riding displayed in this incident was one of the worst examples I have ever seen," said Sergeant Tony McGovern, the officer in charge of the Operation Venice Scorpion Unit who deployed the stinger.

"It was highly dangerous and this individual put his own life, and the life of other members of the public, in serious danger - this was without police units in direct pursuit.

"The main focus of everyone involved in this incident was bringing it to a safe conclusion. We could not let the high powered motorcycle to continue being ridden in the manner it was – to allow it to continue would have posed even further serious risk to the public. It was clear Briscoe-McLeary was willing to take high risks to evade capture, and I am pleased that the actions taken prevented serious injury or worse coming to members of the public and the rider himself.

"The reckless actions of Briscoe-McLeary during this incident show his clear lack of consideration or care for the judicial system, the public or the police. With colleagues across the Met, Operation Venice will continue to identify and pursue those intent on committing violent and audacious crimes on the streets of London."

Briscoe-McLeary was also sentenced for offences he was wanted for prior to the dangerous driving incident including battery, possession of a class A drug (cocaine), possession of a class B drug (cannabis) and breach of a conditional discharge. The sentences will run concurrently, making his total imprisonment eight months.

 Officers deployed a stinger to bring the chase to an end


Thugs locked up

Two men who stole a Rolex worth £30,000 from a woman in Chelsea and threatened her with an axe before making their getaway on a moped have received jail sentences.

Connor Murphy, 26 of Salters Road, W10, was jailed for six years and nine months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and Richard Walsh, 29 of Ashburnham Road, Chelsea, SW10, was sentenced to four years and nine months' imprisonment after pleading guilty to encouraging/assisting a robbery.

Detective Sergeant Chris Taylor, said: "This was a terrifying robbery."


Video interview: new BMW F750GS-P is a lean, mean thief-busting machine

First published 9 March 2020 by Ben Clarke

As MCN reported at the end of January, London's Metropolitan Police have taken delivery of a new fleet of BMW F750GS-P bikes to help in the fight against bike and scooter crime in the capital.

To make sure the bikes were well-suited for the job, BMW consulted PC Clem Jones, a 'scorpion' officer from Operation Venice, who told MCN how it's been adapted.

"The BMW isn't a conventional police bike in the sense of having a wide presence," he said. "It's very streamlined and the back has been slimmed-down to enable us to go the same places the mopeds go – that's the core aspect behind it."

To achieve this, traditional panniers and blue light 'wand' have been ditched in favour of a clean tail unit and centrally-mounted LED light.

Jones emphasised that creating a new police bike isn't as simple as buying a new model and putting stickers and lights on it, saying: "To an every day member of the public, they probably think that but the level of testing and development that goes into these bikes is phenomenal.

"Every police-spec component that's added has to be tested so that it doesn't interfere with another aspect of the bike including the electronics and ECU. When these go out operationally, they need to be reliable and they need to function."

Jones said that an early iteration of the new LED lighting was found to interfere with the bike's communications so was redesigned.

Along with the new tail, the bikes also get lights and sirens at to the front, a communications system, a BMW factory satnav and additional crash bars.

BMW F750GS-P comms system

The F750GS-P is a direct result of the working relationship the Met have with BMW and the bikes are already attracting attention from other forces in the UK who are trying to tackle moped and scooter crime.

Scott Grimsdall of BMW UK said only a brand with a global presence in emergency vehicles could provide this kind of collaboration and result.

"We're very pleased to assist the Metropolitan Police with their efforts to tackle moped crime. The F750GS has the agility and versatility to take on all terrains and is uniquely suited to navigate London's busy streets swiftly and with precision."


Seven special BMW F750GSs help police fight against bike thieves

First published 22 January 2019 by Jordan Gibbons

Met Police with their new fleet of BMW F750GS-P motorbikes

London's Metropolitan Police have expanded their bike thief catching capability by investing in a fleet of small, agile motorcycles that are well suited to inner city chases.

The seven machines, which were unveiled last week, are to be used by specially-trained 'scorpion' officers who form part of the Met's Operation Venice – a dedicated task force to stem the capital's rise in motorcycle theft and moped-related crime.

The new BMW F750GS-Ps have been specially-tailored to the specific requirements of the police riders who'll use them. The Met say that they are well-suited to navigation through London, with their small size and low weight making them more capable of chasing thieves on mopeds than pursuit cars, R1200RTs or R1250RTs.

The bikes have undergone a bespoke redesign with BMW who have been able to fit all the kit needed by officers, such as sirens and radios, without adding any bulk.

Powered by an 850cc parallel twin, the Met say the new bikes offer more than enough shove while also bringing helpful technology such as traction control, ABS and electronic suspension. The Met are the only police force using these bikes for this purpose.

Chief Inspector Jim Corbett, from the Met's Operation Venice team, said: "Although my officers have, and continue, to reduce moped-enabled crime, we are not complacent and know that offenders still believe they can evade capture when on mopeds.

"These new vehicles will allow our specialist drivers to pursue offenders. Their lightweight design has been specially tailored to help us reduce moped-enabled crime even further."

Met Police officers line up with a new fleet of BMW F750GS-Ps

The Met are very proud of the results achieved with Operation Venice, having considerably cut moped-related crime since a peak in July 2017.

Between December 2017 and November 2018, there were 15,168 mopeds, motorcycles and scooters used in offences. In the same period in 2019 this number fell by 42.5% while motorcycle theft fell by 12.5%.

He added: "Whilst we're pleased to see the number of stolen vehicles and crimes committed reduce, we are calling on the public to help us reduce moped- enabled crime even further by informing the police of any suspicious activity and adding extra security to their bikes."


New police video targets bike crime

First published 11 February 2019 by Ben Clarke

A police motorcycle crime cartoon

A hard-hitting police video has been released in a bid to cut bike crime and stop scooter thieves terrorising UK streets.

The short video is part of the Met Police force's 'Lock, Chain, Cover' and shows just how much crime can be committed on a stolen machine in just one day. The animation shows a stolen scooter used in several crimes including phone snatches, a ram raid on a jewellery shop and fuel theft. The crime spree is finally brought to an end when officers use tactical contact to stop the offenders in their tracks.

The force say the video highlights the importance of securing your vehicle properly to deter thieves and, "shows how a stolen machine can be used to commit multiple crimes around London affecting several victims."

It also sends out a clear message that police officers are prepared to use tactical contact when appropriate to bring bike thieves to justice. If you want to speak to the Met about tactical contact, bike crime or anything else (within reason) you can find them at the Carole Nash MCN London Motorcycle Show between Friday, February 14 and Sunday, February 16.

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Police deploy clever tech to crack crime

First published 11 December 2019 by Ben Clarke

Police work with anti-theft group to recover stolen motorbike

Britain's leading bike crime expert says that despite a reduction in UK thefts, it's still a massive problem and has outlined how police are turning to social media and modern tech in a bid to stem the flow of stolen motorcycles.

Dr Ken German, who spent 25 years with the Met's stolen vehicle squad, told MCN that theft figures for 2019 are expected to hit 24,000 bikes, taking the tally for the last five years to 141,000 machines with a total value of £156m. 

He said: "Only 45% of these will be recovered, leaving 63,400 machines still unaccounted for all presumably cloned, exported or more likely stripped into component parts and sold."

Theft figures aren't available for all EU countries but with France losing machines at an annual rate of 41,198, Italy 39,029, Germany 14,200 and Spain 8000, Dr German says the black market in motorcycle salvage is huge.

Here are Ken German's top tips for deterring thieves…

  • Lock - Use a disc lock or a grip lock to secure the brake and throttle controls. You could also use a D-lock on the front wheel to stop it being wheeled away.
  • Chain - Use a chain lock through the back wheel. Secure your bike to an immovable object such as a ground anchor or street furniture. Don't leave any links trailing on the ground.
  • Cover - Thieves often 'shop' for particular models. Using a cover makes your bike less attractive to them

Dr German said that the police in the UK are deploying CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Reader (ANPR) cameras in the fight against the criminals and recommend tracking devices, which lead to stolen motorbike recovery in 92% of cases where there's an active signal.

Police are also fans of hidden DNA marks and passive transponders because they positively identify stolen machines and are often overlooked by the thieves.

Social media and rider groups play a part too, Dr German said: "The stolen vehicle social media pages give officers information on who is doing what and where. Without these aids, motorcycle theft would spiral out of control and forces are therefore working alongside selected volunteer recovery groups rather than branding them vigilantes."

Taking responsibility for your own security is also key in fighting back against bike crime. He said: "Choosing locks and chains, alarms, immobilisers and covers is still hugely important in trying to prevent your machine being stolen. Basic security dissuades 30% of thieves from stealing a motorcycle so everyone has a part to play in stopping this stealing spree."

Dr German is still astounded that seven out of ten owners still do not lock their machines when parked up. He said: "The fact it's 'only' 24,000 bikes is a bit of a result, when you consider that this number of victims standing side by side would constitute a queue nine times around Brands Hatch; it does make you think."

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Ben Clarke

By Ben Clarke

Assistant Editor (Motorcycling), hick for life, two cylinders max