Southwark police have launched a crackdown on people stealing mobile phones, with two suspects charged recently and several other arrested.
One of the two people was hit with an attempted robbery charge, while the other was charged with robbery and assault with intent to rob.
Mobile phone snatching is a big, longstanding problem in the north of the borough, especially in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, with hotspots including the areas around London Bridge station and Canada Water tube station. Police recorded 1,187 instances of robbery of personal property in the borough from May 2021-April 2022, the latest figures on record. The London Bridge and Borough areas had by far the highest robbery rate within Southwark over the same period.
Detective inspector Donnett Oseni of Southwark and Lambeth’s burglary and robbery investigation team said that SE1 and SE16 are priority areas for her officers.
She told the News: “We’re trying to improve our robbery response. Summer is coming, there’s going to be some warmer weather, with more people out. We’re getting some people to justice.”
Officers from DI Oseni’s team recently raided eight shops in Walworth where criminals had sold on mobile phones and other electronic devices. Some 60 devices that police suspect are stolen were recovered.
She urged people whose phones had been stolen to report them missing to police with the serial number. “If they have been reported lost or stolen with their serial numbers they’re not hard to find. But it’s difficult to know if they haven’t been reported.”
Anecdotally, people often complain about teenage boys on bikes circling busy areas like Canada Water station and snatching phones out of commuters’ hands. But DI Oseni said: “We do have a lot of young people on bikes but it’s not solely kids. There are a lot of people coming in through London Bridge.”
Asked if people should be more careful to avoid having their phone stolen, DI Oseni said: “We’re not victim blaming because you should be able to go out and use your phone safely. But we would say, if possible, be careful when in those areas and try to keep your phone out of sight. And if your phone is stolen please do report it because we do follow up those lines of inquiry.”
And addressing thieves or would-be criminals, the detective added: “Don’t do it, because we might catch you.”