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

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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.

Related articles on MCN

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.

Related articles on MCN

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.

Related articles on MCN

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

Staff Writer, hick for life, two cylinders max