Rotherhithe: Fears of a spike in thefts and robberies as lockdown eases

Kit Heren (12 May, 2021)

The most common crime across the past two years has been theft, with more than 1,200 reported incidents

24413Image: stock

Rotherhithe residents have complained of a spate of thefts and robberies in recent months as lockdown lifts and more people begin mixing outside again.

Met Police figures show that crime in the area dipped markedly in the first stage of Covid-19 restrictions in April last year, before rising again in the summer and autumn as the government relaxed rules on socialising and working with others.

Numbers began dropping again in November as the new lockdown came in, before starting to rise again in February. Figures for March, the most recent that are publicly available, show a significant increase, although still below the two-year average for the area.

Rotherhithe’s crime rate is well above the average for Southwark and London as a whole. In March there were eleven crimes committed per 1,000 residents in the area, compared to eight in Southwark and seven in the capital more broadly.

The most common crime across the past two years has been theft, with more than 1,200 reported incidents.

Local resident Charley Miller said she had witnessed two muggings in the area in the past two months, with the culprits seeming to be teenage boys.

“It’s a joke,” she said. “The kids know they are getting away with it, they know it’s easy money so they just do it the whole time… We need more CCTV to catch them.”

Charley started up a popular local Facebook group to try and tackle the problem about two years ago. The group aims to promote social cohesion and community values.

“But I’m worried that some of the kids are going to steal from the wrong person and get into serious trouble,” she added.

A lot of the theft takes place in the area around Canada Water tube station and the Surrey Quays shopping centre. The area is going to be hit with an influx of new residents in the years to come as part of the Canada Water Masterplan, a huge new development that is expected to add 3,000 new homes.

Charley said: “This problem is only going to get worse with all the new people coming in. These kids are just going to see easy money.”

Local police say they are doing their best to tackle the problem. Godwin Perrot, the sergeant for the Rotherhithe community policing (“safer neighbourhoods”) team told the News that incidents of robbery – stealing that involves some kind of violent attack or threat – had gone down recently. Robbery is higher-priority and often involves some kind of face-to-face confrontation, so culprits can be easier for victims to identify.

“Snatching” incidents – such as when someone cycles past and steals a phone from the victim’s hand, have remained high, Perrot said. “We are aware of the issue and we are putting measures in place to try and stop it,” he added.

One of the areas that police target is the onward market for these phones. Every so often officers will raid mobile phone stalls on the street, which often buy up stolen devices, Sergeant Perrot said. They also have an agreement with local pawn shops to recover stolen phones.

The market for stolen phones took a hit a few years ago when Apple changed the operating system on iPhones, which made it much harder to break into stolen devices and wipe the memory, Sergeant Perrot added. Unfortunately criminals appear to have got around this problem and the market has recovered.

Sergeant Perrot said that as lockdown continues to ease, shoplifting may increase again after dropping considerably when non-essential shops were forced to close. Worryingly, going by the statistics, thefts seem likely to increase more generally as restrictions continue to ease, despite the best efforts of the Rotherhithe safer neighbourhood team.


Mark says:

Hi there. This article is all over the place.
There will naturally be more opportunistic crime when more people mill about when lockdown eases. As there is little to do around Canada Water for kids, they will inevitably hit out at passerby’s who look the other way and ignore the problem. Like why isn’t there a park for skateboarders so instead they take up the square and steps. If the article is concerned that Canada Water may not be a desirable location due to crime, then take it up with British Land.

Karen Connolly says:

They don’t tell this to potential buyers Southwark Council of new properties buying into the illusive Southwark Property boom dream nor do they admit this Council the rich poor divide is widening because of them and mismanagement of funds and incompetence every level of fail nor that a lot of these so called Robberies are caused by persons with long term drug addiction begging for help known to services failed by services especially Council homeless sections. Surely it would be a lot easier and cheaper if our Council just acted responsibly with the trained staff it employees suppose to help these culprits many living rough on the streets in harrowing conditions yes our Southwark Streets and stop putting it down to statistics pretending like it is a police matter when in fact it’s their remit more so it’s disgusting carry on and I’m glad this article raised it again.

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