Jail time for reckless riders: Video shows police arresting drug and dangerous riders in St Helens

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Merseyside Police have released footage of three men riding scramblers ‘dangerously and recklessly’ through St Helens before being arrested.

The video has been made public following the sentencing of Matthew Doran, 28, Owen Moran, 23, and Victor Zhao, 18, and is being used to publicise the force’s campaign to stop drink and drug driving.

Following the incident, which took place in November 2020, Doran and Moran both admitted dangerous and drug driving and were jailed while Zhoa admitted dangerous driving and was sent to a young offenders institute. All three were banned from driving for two years.

A still taken from Merseyside Police's video

“I hope they spend time reflecting on how their actions could have harmed themselves or others,” said Roads Policing Sergeant Tim Pottle. “They not only put their own lives at risk, but the lives of other innocent road users. Our officers share the frustration felt by the public when scrambler bikes are ridden illegally, often dangerously and at speed.

“We are determined to make sure those who put themselves and others at serious risk of injury or worse are brought to justice, and the vehicles they use taken off them. I hope this illustrates that our officers will stop at nothing and do everything in their power to stop such people from blighting our roads and open spaces.”

The three started out in a group of 10-15 riders on the day and during the pursuit they can be seen travelling the wrong way along busy roads, ignoring several red traffic lights and weaving between cars. A stinger was eventually used to bring the chase to an end after two of the riders had already been arrested.

Watch the video from Merseyside Police here:

Sgt Pottle added: “Information from the public has proved a vital part of our efforts to remove these vehicles. I call upon anyone who realises people near them are storing illegal bikes to get in touch.”


Don’t get done online: How to avoid increasingly clever sales scams

First published 27 January 2023 by Ben Clarke

Using a computer to sell or buy a motorbike online

Selling bikes online is nothing new, it’s a convenient way to get your listing seen by as many people as possible, takes minutes to do and in the case of some sites – like Facebook Marketplace – it’s free, too.

But for as long as bikes have been sold online, the crooks have been trying to figure out ways to get hold of them for free, part buyers from their cash without producing the goods or even end up in possession of all the money and a bike.

The simplest way for the thieves to do this is to offer a bike for sale, agree a price and arrange the exchange and then rob the buyer when they turn up. We reported on such a case earlier this month where a machete was used in the robbery and the buyer’s father ended up with nasty injuries.

Facebook Marketplace motorbike listing

Thieves can also respond to genuine listings by posing as prospective buyers. Some then talk their way into a test ride and are never to be seen again while others use fraudulent banking apps that make it look as though money has been transferred when it hasn’t.

The problem has got so bad in the Bradford area that West Yorkshire Police have issued advice to bikers on how to avoid becoming a victim.

“I would like to warn people to be extra careful, a number of these suspects tend to set up fake social media sites,” said Detective Chief Inspector Andy Farrell from the force.

Theft of an MT-07 caught on camera

Earlier this month, a victim had their bike stolen while they were waiting for an online payment. The payment never arrived but the bike was gone.

DCI Farrell added: “Check the profile and if there are similar reviews this could be an indication it is fake. If you’ve been a victim of a similar crime, please report it to us.”

Police online selling advice

Do:

  • Beware of accounts set up very recently with lots of favourable feedback that sounds similar.
  • Use site’s recommended payment site (eg PayPal).
  • If you make payments in cash, consider carrying this out at your or the seller’s bank for added protection.
  • Avoid direct bank transfers where possible. If payment is made via transfer, always check with your own bank if payment is shown pending.
  • Keep hold of any property until you have received confirmation from your bank that the payment has been received successfully.
  • Trust your instincts.

Don’t:

  • Allow the buyer to change the agreed meeting place.
  • Hand over goods until cash is confirmed in your account.
  • Allow the buyer to rush you in an effort to persuade you that payment has been made.

Scooter phone snatchers jailed: Pair who took 72 phones in six weeks get four and a half years

First published 16 January 2023 by Ben Clarke

Kavungu and James snatch a phone

Two men who used a scooter to snatch 72 mobile phones in six weeks have been jailed. Randy Kavungu, 21, and Darius James, 22, were identified and arrested by the Met’s Operation Venice team and later pleaded guilty to offences including robbery and threatening with an offensive weapon.

The pair typically targeted London commuters, riding close to their victims on a Piaggio Beverly 350 with the numberplate covered.

The pillion would snatch the mobile before the pair made a getaway. One victim had coffee thrown in their face and another had their finger broken. Witnesses were threatened with a hammer.

Randy Kavungu (left) and Darius James (right)

“Kavungu and James set out with a plan to steal the phones of as many people as they could, using a scooter to target lone victims in open spaces,” said Detective Inspector Alan Biggs from Operation Venice.

“They had no regard for the harm they could have caused by their dangerous driving and it is only by extreme fortune that no-one was more seriously injured. We were determined to catch these two suspects.

“Our investigation involved examining hundreds of hours of CCTV as well as complex mobile phone analysis and we are pleased this means they will now be off our streets and unable to commit further offences for a long time.”

Kavungu and James make a scooter enabled getaway after phone snatch

Police used patrols, CCTV, witness testimony and other communications data to build a profile of the offenders and both were arrested in July, 2021.

Det Chief Superintendent Lee Hill, Head of the Violent Crime Taskforce, added: “Tackling violent crime in all its forms is our top priority.”


Jail time for teen offenders: Police chopper used to track down delinquents on theft spree

First published 9 January 2023 by Ben Clarke

Tyler, Eastabrook and Carr after their arrests

Three teenagers who went on a violent moped robbery spree in Peterborough have been jailed. The trio targeted delivery riders in the city, forcing them off their mopeds before joyriding and burning them out.

Tyler Eastabrook, 19, Harvey Carr, 18, and Weston Haylock, 18, began the spree when they targeted a Domino’s rider on January 8, 2022. Wearing balaclavas, Eastabrook and Haylock blocked the rider’s path and held a knife to his chest. They rode the moped a short distance to pick up Carr and made off around town before eventually abandoning the bike and setting it on fire.

The following night, the trio targeted a further four riders – one of whom was stabbed in the leg with a large kitchen knife. The three fled after being spotted by the police helicopter. Carr abandoned the stolen bike he was riding near to his house in Angus Court and ran home before police arrived to arrest him.

A stolen bike on fire

A short while later, Haylock walked up to the front of Carr’s home, unaware police were inside, and was also arrested. Eastabrook continued to ride a stolen moped through the city before dumping it in the River Nene. He evaded arrest that night but was found in Carr’s loft and arrested the next day.

Eastabrook was jailed for six-and-a-half years, Carr was jailed for three years and two months and Haylock was jailed for two years and ten months.

“These were premeditated, planned attacks by this group who set out that night to target delivery drivers, all for what appeared to be a bit of ‘fun’ – flaunting their crimes on social media and showing no remorse,” said Detective Constable Hannah Connolly, who investigated.

Tyler Eastabrook on a stolen moped

“Understandably, these were frightening ordeals for all involved, which will no doubt have a lasting effect on them not only in their personal lives but their professional lives as delivery riders.”

Digital evidence

Police use all sorts of evidence gathering methods while investigating crimes including looking through mobile phones and social media. In this case, officers found incriminating text messages on Carr’s phone that read: “U should go to town somewhere g… There’s guys on delivery peds all the time jus boot them off… Or rob a taxi driver or suttin.”

Incriminating footage of Tyler Eastabrook found on social media

The teens also posted videos of their crimes on social media and videos were recovered that showed the group riding the stolen mopeds through Peterborough during the spree, including while trying to get away from a police car.