Moment moped 'vigilantes' chase down thug brandishing wooden plank while on anti-crime patrol

Moment moped 'vigilantes' chase down thug brandishing wooden plank while on anti-crime patrol

February 6, 2019

She's sitting in a parked car bellowing to her "accomplice", a suspected moped thief armed with a foot-long plank of wood.


Just yards away members of Biker Biker, a group of ordinary riders determined to cut down on motorbike crime, are watching him.

He has just been spotted lurking near a stolen bike – one from which two unknown thugs have fled just moments earlier – and they want to know what he is doing.

The wood-wielding man quickly turns on his heels and flees but as he does, one of the following group shouts out "black jacket" in a bid to keep everyone's eyes on him.

The suspect quickly rips his coat off and hurls it to the floor before dashing over to the white car crawling near some traffic lights.

A smash is heard as the wooden plank is hurled towards a support van used by Biker Biker during their night time patrols and which is just metres from the suspect.

The man leaps into the car, tyres screech and within a matter of seconds he is gone, with the group's van in close pursuit.

It gets your f***ing heartbeat going

Welcome to the world of Biker Biker, one of a number of volunteer groups across the UK who have taken it upon themselves to fight the growing problem two-wheeled crime.

They have invited Sun Online out on patrol and we witnessed the dramatic confrontation first hand.

In the moments after the car has sped off Shane, the organiser of Biker Biker, shouts into his phone which is tapped into to the group’s radio communications calling for the driver of their white van.

“I’m just trying to see if our boy’s alright,” Shane explains. “It was only until there was a personal threat to James that we intervened.

"We told everybody to stay back. Hands off. And everybody did basically what we advised. Which is why we need level-headed people on the patrols.”

Thankfully, van-driver James is OK, as was another member of the group, Aaron, who said he chased the fleeing suspect out of the car and down an alley where the man took a swing at him.

Aaron said: “It gets your f*****g heartbeat going.”








The breathless moment – which was reported to police, who confirmed no-one has yet been arrested – is just one of just thousands cops are having to deal with every year.

In 2014, the Metropolitan Police received 1,053 crime reports linked to scooters, mopeds and motorcycles — in the 12 months to May 2018, that number rocketed by 2,000 per cent to 22,025.

Police admit, most of the crimes committed on motorbikes and mopeds are by thugs riding ones stolen from law-abiding Brits.

In response to this growing problem, motorbike enthusiasts decided to help police out by going out in groups of around 10 after sunset with the aim of patrolling crime hotspots to recover stolen bikes and disrupt the thugs.

They stress they are not vigilantes, just normal Brits – postmen, office workers, teachers – who have finally had enough but who never take the law into their own hands.

This group was launched in 2010 after founder Shane’s patience snapped when his bike was stolen for a third time.

'I could make £1,500-a-day'

A masked ex-moped mugger said he could make £1,500 every day nicking valuables from terrified pedestrians in London, writes Holly Christodoulou.

The reformed gangster named Lucas said police were powerless to stop him when he was active.

"You can never catch me on the bike, they can never catch me in action – no way," he said.

"You can't stop someone on a moped, police can't stop us on a moped anyway. It's against the law, they have to leave us to drive off becuase if you do something you're going to lose your job.

"Because you're on a moped, it's not going to work, you'll kill us so you're just gonna have to leave us to drive – try and the helicopter out or something."

He added: "When [the police] started they had their time, now their time's over – their playtime is over.

"It's time for them to crumble, it's time for them to just break down. So it just goes in deeper and crazier."

Lucas, who served time for moped muggings, said he started robbing people on motorbikes when he was shown how to steal them when he was just 13.

He carried on his activities for "many years" because it was "easy money".

'It's terrifying when it happens'

Here one victim of moped criminals tells how she was left feeling scared and vulnerable after being targeted for her phone, writes Tom Burrows.

Sara Lom, Chief Executive of the Tree Council, said: "It happened around Lincoln's Inn Fields in Holborn, outside a barrister's chambers.

"It was on a wide street, with a wide pavement. I was waiting for my husband, and I got my phone out to check an address when a moped came from behind me.

"The person grabbed my hand and took my phone and I started to scream as loudly as I could saying 'stop that moped!'

"But nobody was able to and I can't blame them. I remember running into the barrister's and shouting for help.

"I have to say, it was incredibly professional. If they put half as much effort into a real career as they did with this [criminal activity], they'd be a great success. It's a tragedy they don't.

"The police were very good and came very quickly. They said the guys are very professional and work between different authorities.

"When it happens to you, you just freeze. You can't believe it's happened. I was very angry, I wanted to do my best to stop them. Then afterwards you feel shaky.

"It makes you feel cautious.

"I think it's terrifying that moped crimes are on the increase, especially when there are knives involved, and when people are punched.

"It's also terrible when elderly people, or vulnerable people, are targeted."

Shane said: “I was feeling very angry. People want to go out with baseball bats and screwdrivers and all sorts and get revenge, but I wanted to nip it in the bud. To stop it from happening in the first place."

Roop, Shane’s wife and fellow Biker Biker member, added: “Firstly, it was just the motorcycles getting stolen. Then it progressed to motorcycle crime. Kids on mopeds snatching, attacking people, robberies and things like those.

“Our aim is not to fight them, it’s not to pin them down, our aim is not to kick their heads in. Our aim is to just get that particular bike off them and take it back to their owner.”

She added: “We are doing this to have a better country to live in.”

On this particular patrol, members had assembled in a Burger King car park in Egham in Surrey before heading out at around 7pm recovering dumped bikes wherever possible thanks to their specialist van provided free of charge by Knights Recovery.

I called the police when they were stealing my second bike because I was at home – there’s nothing I could do. These guys are standing outside with power tools.

Shane’s briefing to the gathering had been straight to the point: “Basically, don’t do anything that’s going to get you nicked, don’t do anything that’s going to get you hurt.

"If you see any scroties or any ratties, you’re on Zello [the group’s communication app], just let us know. Don’t chase ‘em, don’t try and pull ‘em off their bikes.”

Their methods are simple – whenever they find a stolen bike (which they confirm using an online database of vehicle records), they immediately call the cops and offer to bring it back to the owner.

And if they happen to come across any of the suspected thieves they hang back and call the police – but sometimes the situation escalates and becomes dangerous, like tonight.

The night’s drama all began with the discovery of a stolen moped which one of the bikers found towards the end of the 4-hour shift down a dark single-track road in Feltham.

Abandoned next to a high metal fence, the 125cc scooter was in a sorry state, with its plastic panels strewn around it and loose wires hanging off the front beneath the handlebars.






One of the main men in Biker Biker, known as “Tiny”, breaks down the thief’s method.

“That’s the back of the ignition lock,” he says, pointing to twisted tangle of wires at the front of the corrupted machine. “That’s all been damaged."

He goes on to describe how bikes can be stolen in less than a minute using as little as three tools that can be found in most homes around Britain.

About 15 minutes before the moped was found, one of the team named Liam said he’d seen two lads wearing high-vis jackets riding on the now smashed up scooter, but they’d lost sight of them after they made “hand signs” at Liam and sped off.

The pair had been spooked – and with good reason.

Biker Biker passes all intelligence gathered on suspected criminals to the authorities but it's prime objective is to get nicked bikes back where they belong.

And tonight, amazingly, the owner of this particular ditched moped is found nearby.

So I came out and I see these guys here with the bike and I’m like ‘This is a miracle’, right?

Stefano, who has lived in the area for three years with his cousin Daniele, told how he came home from work to discover his biker missing.

He called cops to report it being stolen but just a few hours later, his cousin called him to come outside.

Stefano said: “So I came out and I see these guys here with the bike and I’m like ‘This is a miracle’, right?

“I’m completely shocked and I wasn’t expecting something like this to happen at all.

“But at the moment I feel really, really glad and thankful to these guys. Thank you, thank you so much.”

Stefano’s bike will be added to the lengthening list of recoveries Biker Biker has racked up over the years – with around 450 motorcycles recovered in the last 12 months alone.

Oganiser Shane doesn’t want his group to be thought of as vigilantes though.

He said: “We’re not vigilantes. Vigilantes are people who take the law into their own hands. We respect the law.







"We’re just out there on the streets every week trying to keep the little rats (as we like to call them) indoors.

"‘Cause that’s what they are – they’re feral rats. Anybody who takes property, takes food off a man’s table, are bloody rats.

“I see it all the time. These people who are left with nothing, they can only afford third-party insurance, and their way of making money is gone. It shouldn’t happen to a working man. He’s just trying to feed his family.”

The group do get into some serious clashes with the criminals they’re trying to keep indoors – less than two weeks ago, they intervened in an attempted robbery at a petrol station.
Shane says: "We get things thrown at us. Only from the little scroties. There’s a lot of occasions where we’ll get abuse and there’ll be like, ‘Oh, blah blah blah’.

"But we’re just taking away their livelihood or their ganj money, know what I mean? And I don’t really care about that, I just want that man’s bike back, and that’s all I’m after – the bikes.

WHY ARE BIKES BEING STOLEN?

Mopeds, scooters, motorcycles and even bicycles are usually stolen to be used in the commission of other crimes (although some bicycles may also be stolen to be sold on online selling sites).

"The Met wants to prevent the theft of these vehicles in the first place and is doing so through a combination of approaches.

"Making owners aware of what they can do about reducing the thefts. Our ongoing patrols, and overt and covert intelligence-led operations target moped thieves in the areas they operate and where mopeds are stolen from.

"As a result of intensive proactive policing and engagement, there have been reductions in moped crime across London.

"Latest year-on-year figures show that in January 2017 to December 2017 there were 23,477 offences across London compared to January 2018 to December 2018 when there were 13,723 offences (a difference of 9,754) – a reduction of 41.5 per cent.

There have also been year-on-year reductions in theft of mopeds:

– Jan 2017 to Dec 2017: 14,031

– Jan 2018 to Dec 2018: 9,445

4,586 fewer offences – a reduction of 32.7 per cent

"They need a smack on the arse, don’t they? Their parents should be accountable. I know it’s not easy keeping track of your child, I know that.

"We were all 14, 15 at one stage. But at the end of the day, there’s got to be a point where you say: ‘This is right, this is wrong’."

But even though the group has recovered hundreds of bikes, some police forces have hit out at them.

A Met Police spokesman said: "The Met does not support activities by individuals or groups who target suspected criminals. Those who seek to take the law into their own hands put themselves at risk and will be liable to prosecution.

"This type of action could jeopardise or interfere with ongoing investigations, and our advice to anyone who has information about a suspect or witnesses a crime is to contact police as soon as possible so it can be investigated and, where possible, bring people to justice.

"Revealing the identity of a potential suspect could give them the opportunity to destroy evidence before police become involved.

"Individuals or groups who target potentially violent criminals could be putting themselves at risk and we advise anyone who witnesses such crimes to call 999."

But while Scotland Yard denounced the group's activities, a Surrey Police spokesperson said "we don't discourage them".

With or without the support of individual forces, Biker Biker won't be putting the brakes on any time soon.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson confirmed that no arrests have yet been made in connection with the incident Biker Biker disrupted as reported in this article.





 

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