Panic on the streets of London by Wookie | VIBE OPINION
Don’t end up crucified
for riding a GTS
in the Capital
Riding on a quiet dark street just off one of the main roads in Hackney I stop at a set of red lights at a pedestrian crossing. There’s nobody in sight. All of a sudden I hear “GTS BRUV, THE BLUE ONE!” That’s it; I just snap the throttle open and shoot through the red light. As I ride off up the road I look back in my mirrors and see two or three hooded assailants now in the middle of the road, where there was nobody a split second ago. One of them throws a bottle after me but I’m well out of range and safe, for now…
This is the new harsh reality that has come to Britain’s streets – scooter jacking. We are seeing more and more in the media about scooter gangs who are using high powered automatic scooters to commit crimes ranging from petrol theft, mobile phone theft to full blown smash & grab raids on clothes stores and even jewellery heists!
Smash and grab
The robustness (steel monocoque frame) of the Vespa GTS in particular, coupled with its speed, agility, and the fact that the police will not pursue them* makes them the ideal scooter for these smash & grab raids. This is the main reason these scooters are being stolen at the moment around Britain, not necessarily for parts anymore. Unfortunately the criminals aren’t waiting for the cover of darkness and aren’t just targeting parked bikes, that is both inconvenient and time consuming (poor little lambs) so they are now taking it upon themselves to relieve owners of their bikes on the streets. Usually at traffic lights but it’s also been known in fuel stations, when people are leaving home/getting home (the thieves scout your routine then lay in wait), and makeshift roadblocks. I’ve even heard of people being rugby tackled and drop-kicked from their scoots, and probably the most shocking, I actually know of someone who has been hit over the head with a hammer in order for them to steal his bike! The favoured method for this appalling act of violence is the trick of one person distracting the rider to one side, even with a simple “OI!”, then at the other side of the rider is a little cherub closing in on the attack. One experience I’ve had first hand is being closed in by 6 or 7 scooters ridden by young lads at a set of red lights. One of them next to me asks me if I want to sell my engine (strange question = distraction) when I look back round one of them was fiddling with my top box and another was looking down and around my ignition at my keys, which, were luckily attached to my jacket via a lanyard, which, may have been enough to put them off. Evidently I managed to do a u-turn, and belted off the other way.
I’ve also personally been followed by two lads on a scooter, what they were wearing caught my eye. They also showed an unhealthy interest in my scooter. I used my local knowledge to do an inconspicuous circle and noticed that they were still following me. Luckily for me on that occasion I was able to open the throttle and leave them for dead, before they had a chance to possibly do it to me for real…
This is not meant to try and scare anyone but is just a means to make people more alert on their scooters, bikes, and even bicycles. Don’t leave your scooter running whilst you open or close garage doors and gates. Take the keys out of the ignition at a garage and be careful where you park. Certainly be mindful of your surroundings when stopped at lights, think why is that shopping trolley in the middle of the road? Keep your wits about you, day & night, and there shouldn’t be any reason for things to go wrong.
Do not pursue
*I have the word of a friendly policeman that they are not to pursue a Vespa GTS300 at all.
Text by Wookie
Image by Stefano Gadda