Vicious Cycle: Reports of dockless OFO bike bandits in Peckham and East Dulwich

Katherine Johnston (13 September, 2018) Crime

'They pulled their hoods up, were signalling to each other, the guy on foot jumped on the front handlebar and was coming for my bag'

25124An Ofo bike

Reports of a series of attempted robberies by Ofo-riding bike gangs in Peckham and East Dulwich have left cyclists and commuters fearing for their safety.

One resident has told how he was ‘accosted’ by three men on September 9  – two on bikes and one on foot-  on Goodrich Road, near the junction with Upland Road, and was only prevented from being harmed after they were distracted by a motorist.

They are believed to have been aged between eighteen and 23-years – with one riding a ‘beaten up yellow hire bike’.

Posting on the East Dulwich forum website, the resident said: “Last night about, 9.30pm I was accosted by three black men, two on bikes and one on foot, on Goodrich Road, passing the Upland Road junction.

“They were about to rob me.

“They pulled their hoods up, were signalling to each other, the guy on foot jumped on the front handlebar and was coming for my bag.

“I flagged down a car driving motorist who drove straight pass me and refused to stop and help. The robbers, were distracted and peddled away.

“It was a very near miss. Please be very careful.” The post prompted other locals to share similar attacks they had witnessed.

Just days earlier, on September 6, a cyclist is believed to have been pushed off his bike, which was then stolen, by three youths in broad daylight on the corner of Lordship Lane and Eynella Road.

A witness wrote: “Lived in London since ‘93 and never seen anything like it. Lawless,” going on to confirm: “It started on Lordship Lane, I saw them when coming out of Hanush and walked straight in to the situation.  “They chased him and pushed him off just past the library.

“Guy was ok I think, called in to the police, he went off with the police when they arrived, probably to try and track them down.

“The youths went off down Woodwarde Road with his bike after pushing him.

“A shop owner also came along and mentioned they might have taken something from his shop on Lordship lane.”

And on August 26, a teenage male on an Ofo bike was seen cycling down East Dulwich road trying to steal phoned out of people’s hands.

The News understands several muggings have taken place on the Surrey Canal cycling path through Peckham and Burgess Park.

Another resident has told of being corned near Peckham Library by a youth on a yellow hire bike swerving rapidly in front of his way, before doing the same manoeuvre in front of his wife’s bike as if to force them both off.

“When I looked back he had several mates with him waiting on the side lines, presumably to grab the bike of anyone who does fall.

“Bloody brazen in broad daylight.

“I did call the police and they promised to send a car, but I think they saw me calling and will doubtless be long gone before anyone gets there.”

It is believed the bikes, which require users to register with an app, can be stolen easily by being hacked, or having the lock broken off.

Southwark Police was unable to confirm before the News’ print deadline whether it was investigating a rise in thefts and robberies involving the dockless bikes.

London Councils, the local authority umbrella group, does not hold data on reported crimes, but a spokesperson said it was working with TfL to develop a by-law and ‘pan-London approach’ to help boroughs manage dockless cycle hire schemes, in an effort to reduce street clutter and abandoned bicycles on private property and improve road safety.

A TfL spokesperson confirmed: “We’re working hard to make cycling easier and more accessible across London, so we welcome the growth in dockless cycle hire schemes, as well as growth for our own popular Santander Cycles.

“However, it is vital that dockless operators work closely with us and the boroughs to ensure their schemes are safely and responsibly managed, so we can avoid the disruptive and dangerous clutter of abandoned bikes that we have seen in some cities around the world.

When contacted by the News, an Ofo spokesperson said it had not received ‘any recent complaints regarding such activities’.

“We actively work with the police where issues of theft, privatisation or misuse of Ofo bikes arise,” a spokesperson said.

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