Specially-trained officers will enhance their activity over the next two weeks to target would-be thieves intent on stealing from members of the public

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After most lockdown restrictions were lifted this week, London, like many other places across the UK, will see increased footfall. Larger crowds of people and more densely-packed streets create a more agile operating ground for street robbers.

During the summer months especially, the Met has previously seen an increase in the number of street robberies being carried out. They can take place in a matter of seconds as those responsible speed by on mopeds – and increasingly e-scooters – and snatch phones, wallets and bags without needing to stop.

This crime type was particularly prevalent in 2017. The Met’s dedicated Operation Venice team, made up of specially trained officers, was formed in response to the increase in offending, and as a result of their specialist skills and tactics, offences have continued to drop year-on-year.

Thieves mainly target unsuspecting members of the public who have their mobile phones in their hand or have placed valuable goods on a table whilst sat outdoors. Recently, officers have seen a number of incidents where individuals wearing high-value watches have been targeted.

This type of offending led the force to launch a dedicated campaign encouraging those on the streets of London to ‘look up and look out’ and be aware of their surroundings.

The Met is determined to deter and prevent robberies from taking place on the streets of London and ensure communities can go about their daily lives unaffected by thieves.

Dedicated robbery teams carry out activity across the capital on a daily basis, but to enhance that work the Operation Venice team will be conducting two weeks of focused activity across London.

Specially trained officers from the Operation Venice and the Roads and Transport Policing Command will focus their attention on hotspot areas, as well as key times of the day, to prevent those intent on using mopeds and other means of transport to steal from the community from being able to do so.

Detective Chief Superintendent Lee Hill, who leads Operation Venice, said: “Tackling violence in all its forms is our absolute priority. We want to send a clear message to anyone who thinks it’s ok to steal from our communities that it will not be tolerated.

Officers will be out on motorcycles and using specialist tactics to target offenders.

“It is brilliant to see visitors back in the West End again after what has been an extremely difficult time. We want everyone to have fun and enjoy themselves. Many people have waited a long time to enjoy the area’s shops, bars, restaurants and cinemas but we want them to do so safely.

Many of us walk around looking down at our phones and often people have other valuable items, such as headphones, on the go too. We are urging people to be more vigilant and aware of their surroundings. Please look up and look out.

“It is also vital that people call the police and report it at the time so we can catch those responsible quickly. We get many late reports long after the offender has left the area. We encourage anyone who witnesses a crime to call 999 for an emergency or 101 for a non-emergency.”

Advice is to:

Stay aware of your surroundings and pay attention to who is around you
Keep valuables such as mobile phones, watches and cash out of sight
Plan your route home