iPhone generation are a “soft touch” for Shoreditch boy bike snatchers

Police motorcyclists will provide one-to-one training with commuter bikers

Police motorcyclists will provide one-to-one training with commuter bikers - Credit: Archant

Police have warned there could soon be an “explosion” of iPhone snatches by thieves on mopeds and bikes if owners are not more vigilant.

Uniformed officers have been out on the streets of the Shoreditch triangle for the past two weeks for Operation Horizon, giving prevention advice and raising awareness of the growing crime.

There have also been police on motorbikes on hand in the Old Street area to disrupt any would-be robbers, others on bicycles and some covert officers keeping an eye on anyone acting suspiciously.

As a result there have only been 35 mobile phone thefts in the area in the last fortnight compared to 60 in the previous one.

Insp Ian Simpkins is pleased with the decrease and thinks the key to sustaining it is making people aware of the problem.

He said:“I feel Shoreditch is a bit of a soft target with people coming and going to work in Tech City with their high-tech gadgets.

“Everyone has an iPhone. It’s quite a young population and everyone is engrossed in doing their tweeting and their Facebooking and they are just a soft target.”

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He said: “I do it myself, I caught myself today walking up from the train, for about 10 minutes I was on the phone, you are just not aware of your surroundings.

“These lads are fairly brazen, they will come up on the pavement and within seconds,” he clicked his fingers, “Once they are out of arms reach they are gone.”

He is concerned phone thefts by crooks on mopeds and bikes could soon “explode”.

“It’s quite profitable, anyone can do it and the chances of us physically intercepting someone are low, because we are predominantly in cars and they can go places cars can’t, such as through bollards, and that’s the end of it.

“The profile of the criminal here is kids on bikes. An iPhone will go for £150, it’s easy money.”

Reactions to police advice have been mixed.

Mr Simpkins added: “One person I spoke to said: ‘I’ve lived here for 17 years and I’ve always done it, I haven’t been robbed yet.’ A second person with a Kindle said: “I’ll take that risk.’

“It’s disappointing. We’re telling people and if they don’t want to listen that’s their call, it’s their property and if it gets stolen on the back of that, at least we’re confident we’ve done our bit.”