Hackney police say that thieves are disguising themselves as cycle commuters so that they can more easily swipe phones from pedestrians’ hands. "Suspects are even known to wear high-visibility clothing in a bid to blend in with their surroundings," commented an officer.
The Hackney Gazette reports that there has been a rise in phone theft in Shoreditch, Hoxton, Bethnal Green and Dalston.
The thieves tend to be teenage boys on bicycles or men on e-bikes, according to Sergeant Vincent Boughton, who leads the Robbery Task Force launched under Operation Trebbiano to tackle street robberies and phone snatches.
"Offences occur mainly during commuting times, around 7am to 9am and from 4pm to 9pm," he said.
"Suspects tend to either be teenage boys on bicycles or males on electric-powered pedal cycles, dressed as 'professional commuters' – i.e. in traditional cycle clothing, with helmets and snoods, face coverings or balaclavas.
"Suspects are even known to wear high-visibility clothing, in a bid to blend in with their surroundings.”
Since the Robbery Task Force was launched in May, the 12 officers have made more than 240 arrests, with 116 for robbery or theft of person.