Rider has leg smashed in second scooter-jacking incident in our Capital city…
We’ve all heard about bike crime in London and in particular scooter jacking, scooter theft and violent crime. Often stolen scooters are used as a getaway vehicle, or as part of organised crime. After all they’re the best things to get around a city on.
The reports we hear aren’t fairy tales though; this stuff is happening on our streets. Here’s a first hand account by the victim of two separate attacks, both of which were carried out by armed youths. Both of which ended with the victim losing his scooter and on the second occasion last month, also left him crippled after his left knee was smashed with a claw hammer.
David Babbs isn’t the kind of person you’d expect to get robbed easily. He’s 6’ 3” and weighs 18 stone. The Arsenal fan admits he’s, “Been used to a bit of stress and aggro over the years.” 48-year-old David worked the stock markets until giving up City trading to become a London cabbie.
As you probably know, a London black-cab driver has to know the routes. There’s no sat nav in that game and it takes years of hard work and determination to complete ‘The Knowledge’ before you can work as a London taxi driver. Learning the routes (or getting around in London) is best done by scooter and that’s usually done with a knowledge board fastened to the headset: it’s a place for notes, maps and such like. That’s what David used his scooter for.
He’d been having a nice day; he’d done a few hours riding then stopped off at Zealand Road Coffee Shop, his favourite café, for what he describes as, ‘The best cappuccino and bacon butty in London.’ He called in at Scootech, the shop that services (or did) his Piaggio Beverly 350 Sport, before heading home. He remembers the last words the shop owner said to him; “Be careful Dave, the kids are after those scooters…”
Little did he know that he’d soon be chased by a gang and savagely beaten with a claw hammer, his scooter stolen again: the second one in the space of nine months.
July 2015 – held at knifepoint
The first time was in the summer of 2015; David had stopped for a drink at the side of the road in Southwark Park Road Bermondsey, South London. Two youths suddenly appeared, one armed with a switchblade, the other more worryingly armed with a large metal file that had been sharpened into a makeshift 12” knife “You got some keys for us, yeah?”
It wasn’t a question, there was no arguing, they just took the scooter. That Piaggio Beverly was gone, the insurance paid out so it cost David the hassle and £300 excess to replace it. He told us, “The Beverly is a great scooter; it goes well, it’s nimble, smooth and was finished better than some of the other scooters I looked at.” He got a good deal on another one.
The scooter was replaced easily enough but he still had the trauma of being robbed at knifepoint to contend with, things like that don’t leave you. David told us, “The kids hide knives and weapons in walls, or near to where their criminal enterprise is based. That way they don’t get caught carrying a weapon, but they are close by when they need them.”
April 2016 – beaten by claw hammer
“Heading home after a bacon butty, I clocked them before Newbury Park, two lads on an MP3 and another on a battered old cream scooter. I’m not sure what it was but it could have been an old Honda SH125. It was a shitty looking thing and he was struggling to keep up with his mate on the MP3 but he’d catch up with them again at traffic lights. Traffic is busy, it’s 1.30pm and I know the roads well. The lights at Newbury Park hold you for a while and they caught up with me there, ‘Nice engine huh?’ one of the lads shouted over. I knew then that I was in trouble. Three teenagers, wearing the usual uniform of cargo pants – long pockets are perfect to conceal a weapon. Street kids. The douche bags had spotted the knowledge board and knew I wasn’t a local, or a gang rival.
“I was heading back home to Essex at the time but the chase was on and the adrenaline was flowing. The knife attack last year was still playing on my mind. I started to plan a route, trying to keep to busier areas, away from bottlenecks. I rode along the A12, there are Shell and BP garages before the flyover. That’s when I saw it; the pillion on the MP3 passed a hammer from one hand to the other. I knew then if I went into the garage they wouldn’t give a shit if they walloped me there, stolen scooters, helmets on. They’d already chased me for a few miles; my only chance was to get away.
“I considered taking the flyover but there are lights on the other side. I went for the Gallows Corner option instead, it’s a dog-eat-dog, busy junction. Then on my right hand side I noticed a police car. I thought I was safe, then I realised it was parked and empty. I checked my mirrors again and they were getting closer. I went straight over the roundabout; plenty of people around but nobody knew I was being pursued. My riding was getting more erratic; I was taking chances I normally wouldn’t even consider. I got off the A12 and on to a side road. By now they’d rammed into me a couple of times. I’m a bit OCD about my scooter but didn’t even dare look to see if there was any damage. I had to get away…
“I got into the right hand lane, turned into Bryant Avenue near Tesco’s. There’s a new housing estate near Harold Wood so I headed that way because I knew traffic would be quieter. A few more roads and I was into the new estate, it was getting dangerous by now. I turned on to St Clements Avenue, it’s got those horrible chunky speed humps so I had to go a bit slower over them. This gave them a chance to close in. I was doing about 20 or 30mph, the MP3 came up the outside of me, they were shouting at me, he’d got the hammer in his hand. The next thing I remember is the left hand side of my body shutting down, it was numb with pain. I went down, adrenaline coursing through my body. The three of them were off their scooters, two wielding hammers. I realised later the one on the SH must have swiped my knee from the left hand side.”
“I saw them trying to pick my scooter up, it seemed to take them a while then the black one came over shouting “Where’s the fucking keys?” He’d got his claw hammer raised above me. My scooter had a Tucano Urbano lap cover, the keys were in the ignition but hidden under the cover so I told him where to look. They couldn’t get it started, so he came back again, wielding the hammer. I told them to hold the brake in but I think they were just fumbling under the lap cover.
“As they got the scooter started a geezer pulled up in a water board van, he thought I’d had a crash but realised what was happening when he saw the hammers. They drove at him as he got out of the van. I could see my leg was all over the place and the pain was hitting me. Then two blokes who were fitting a kitchen nearby appeared and bundled me in a car and took me to a local clinic.
“After eventually getting an X-ray I was told I’d got a very serious break and was transferred to Queens. I’d smashed my Tibial Plateau and had a lengthy operation to repair it, pins and plates were inserted into my knee. I came round and was screaming in pain. I spent a week in hospital before being sent home for a lengthy recuperation period. Almost a month later I’m still in a lot of pain, I’m not sleeping at night and have had to use a makeshift bed downstairs. I often sob uncontrollably and have visions of the attack. It’s a nightmare.
“Ironically on the day it happened I’d been down the Old Kent Road, into Lewisham and around a few dodgy areas, no problems. Head south of the river though and I can’t emphasise enough that you have to be on your guard.”
The police haven’t really been very helpful on this case, the officer at the scene has been reported and the lads who helped David were disgusted at the way he was treated. The police report gave no mention of a six mile chase and apparently there’s no CCTV evidence anywhere.
ANPR cameras along the route (and in most places) only check front number plates so the criminals on stolen scooters know they’re virtually untouchable. Sadly crimes like this aren’t one offs, don’t be afraid to ride in the city but be careful of where you stop, who is around and try to keep away from those dodgy inner-city areas if at all possible.
Sluk writer Wookie has also reported similar incidents in the Capital here, but this is the worst incident we’ve heard.
Our advice in such a case is to hand the scooter over rather than risk injury because it is insured and can be replaced unlike your health. Currently we have an offer running with Datatool for a monitored TrakKing system and they have previously recovered the same scooter stolen twice in one night. With a tracker you have a far better chance of both seeing your scooter again and having the scumbags nicked than trying to put up a fight.