Police officers working to identify and arrest those suspected of committing a linked series of robberies in south west London between October and November 2020, where the majority of the victims were women, have arrested one man and charged two others


In early November, officers from the Met’s Operation Venice team led an operation into an emerging linked series of moped-enabled robberies that appeared to target lone women walking in the Clapham, Balham and Tooting areas.

Following the deployment over some weeks, officers tracked the phone of one of the most recent victims of robbery to an alleyway in the Norwood area on 23 November 2020.

At this location, Response and Operation Venice officers found two men, in the rear of a vehicle of a third man – a phone shop owner from North London. They were in possession of multiple items of recently stolen property. The shop owner was detained and the two other men escaped by running over live train lines.

The shop owner was arrested for robbery and handling stolen goods. He was released on bail.

Months of detailed enquiries led the officers in this case to not only correctly identify the pair that escaped but revealed the true scale and scope of their offending in doing so. They identified that the pair had carried out 23 robberies and 20 theft snatch offences between October and November 2020, almost all of which targeted lone women in the residential streets of South West London.

Following a series of arrest warrants by Venice and Taskforce officers on the morning of Monday, 22 March, both men – both aged 26 – and were arrested. They were charged the following day.

Detective Inspector Gavin Collins, from the Operation Venice Investigation Team, said: This operation has been months of good old fashioned police work and a determination by the officers to disrupt a linked series of robberies and arrest those suspected of targeting people – mostly lone women – and using mopeds to violently rob and steal their mobile telephones.

“For us to build a strong case to present to the CPS, officers meticulously investigated similar crimes and built a robust investigation that took a number of months to progress. I hope that the public understand that for us to investigate crimes fully, it can be a lengthy process but enables us to show the true extent of the offending.

“Our work to prevent and reduce crimes committed by criminals using mopeds has seen this crime type reduce significantly over the years – something we are proud of and will continue to pursue, especially as we begin to see lockdown easing.”