Unless you’ve been in hiding for the last couple of years you’ll know that the UK has a growing problem with so called ‘Moped enabled crime’. The problem has gone through the roof and like a cancer has started to spread out from the capital. It’s slowly but surely taking hold in the bigger cities, with Manchester, Bristol, Nottingham and Birmingham all suffering a significant rise in motorcycle and scooter related crime. Smaller towns and villages are also suffering from copycat crimes.
The Manchester triangle
We recently covered a story in Manchester, where a well-known scooterist rammed a thief off his own stolen Vespa GTS before being confronted by machete and baseball wielding criminals. He ended up having to leave his stolen/recovered scooter to vanish back into the underworld once again.
Manchester has suffered on numerous occasions, with attempted scooter jacking incidents and recently a mob of 20 balaclava-clad youths on trials bikes and various other machines practically closed a main street off in Ashton-Under-Lyne whilst they beat somebody up. A couple of scooterists were caught up in the incident and the female passenger was so traumatised that she went home after escaping the rampage.
Why are we becoming lawless?
The reasons for the rise in these types of lawless activity are numerous. Firstly the Government have taken 19,000 police officers off the streets since 2010. That’s a huge resource to lose, especially at a time when the UK is still on a high alert for terrorism. Last year in London alone there were 23,500 scooter-related crimes reported, that’s just the tip of a very large iceberg as many more go unrecorded.
Inner city violence
The inner city gangs quickly realised that fewer police officers meant less chance of them being caught. They also realised that they could operate in a larger pond if they mobilised themselves. Stolen high powered scooters quickly became their preferred mode of transport. Mopeds would never cut it in a chase, despite what the police and media use as their term for these types of crimes. These gangs prefer the Vespa GTS 300, Piaggio Beverly 350 and TMAX 530.
Chase me bruv
What better way to encourage mobilised scooter criminals than to remove the law and then use nanny state mentality to further protect the criminals as they terrorise cities, towns and villages? It was a great idea to let it be known that the police weren’t allowed to pursue a stolen scooter/bike rider if that person wasn’t wearing a crash helmet. This and the mainstream media coverage and in some cases glorification of ‘Moped enabled crime’ has lead to what can only be considered an epidemic. The sight of young criminals riding bikes and scooters with nothing more than a tracksuit as ‘protective’ riding kit and a balaclava covering their head/face is becoming a regular sight.
Armed with intent
I live in a Nottinghamshire village and have noticed more and more bikes and scooters being stolen in and around the city over the last six months. It’s moved out of the city as well though and on a few occasions in the last two weeks I’ve seen obviously stolen or illegal bikes and scooters being ridden in the villages. Helmetless tracksuit wearing youths, faces covered by balaclava or bandana, bikes with no number plates. The usual sort of riding you expect from 15-year old Johnny off the estate. These aren’t kids out having fun, these are feral youngsters surviving on our lawless streets like it’s Armageddon. They have little to fear from the law and little chance of being chased (even though the police are set to be given more powers).
Riding in fear
In the past I’d not even consider what type of scooter I ride, where I ride or where I park it. That’s changed in the past few months. My other half asked if we should get tooled up to go into Mansfield on the scooters. She no longer feels safe riding on her own, even locally.
Manchester in fear?
Last week I received a phone call from a Manchester-based scooterist about the Ashton incident and the feelings of regular scooterists around the area. He also told me about what they’re referring to as the ‘Manchester Triangle’ a hot bed for scooter crime in the Denton, Gorton and Ashton areas. More worryingly he talked about scooterists arming themselves when they go out, with a large screwdriver being mentioned as a legitimate tool to carry.
Lose control of the streets, turn the country into a vigilante nation and you soon end up with more deaths, assaults and ordinary riders finding themselves foul of what little law we have left. Why should genuine scooter riders and enthusiasts suffer and be forced to think carefully about where and what we ride, where we park and whether we’ll be safe or not?
Case study 2: Denton, Manchester
Here’s one first-hand account of an armed incident in Denton, Manchester. This happened to Alan Pickering in May. Interestingly Alan didn’t even bother to report it to the police. Our advice is to report every incident, even if the police won’t attend the scene (and to be fair you’re not likely to hang around after something like this) at least it’s logged and will help to build up a picture of problem areas and patterns of attacks.
Alan told us “I went to my local club night a few weeks ago, as I left The Sun Inn in Audenshaw and headed towards Denton I was stopped at traffic lights at Crown Point, Denton. Two motorbikes pulled in front of me, these bikes had no lights or reg plates. The riders had no helmets on but had masks around their faces, suddenly the pillions got off and turned to me saying they wanted my Vespa.
I noticed one of them brandish a Stanley knife. I put my scoot on its stand and removed my helmet to use it to defend myself…”
“Luckily for me I hadn’t noticed two men who had got out of their car and came to my help. The lads jumped back on the bikes and rode off giving some nice insults as they rode away. I thanked the blokes and headed home. This incident was not the only one that night, it seems these lads tried their hand a few times without success. These lowlifes need to be stopped.”
I didn’t even bother contacting the police as they don’t do anything. these low lifes are going to kill someone before long…”
A statement from Greater Manchester Police
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police told us “We take all reports of crime seriously and would urge any scooter riders who have been the victim of crime to call police. There have been low numbers of scooters and mopeds stolen in the area identified, so far this year. In fact, we have seen a 30% reduction in this type of crime compared to the same period in 2017.”
“Considering the area identified, there have only been eight crimes recorded in 2018 where motorcycles have been used in the commission of other offences, commonly as ‘get-away’ vehicles, this figure includes high-powered motorcycles and not just specifically scooters.”
Our officers are authorised to pursue vehicles that are believed to be involved in crime, which includes scooters.”
Parking on scooter rallies
Not so long ago we’d not bother taking a lock and chain to a rally but society has slowly but surely eroded that practice. Scooters by their very nature are vulnerable, many of them don’t even have a steering lock, and in lots of cases don’t even need a key to start them. They’re also light enough to be chucked in a van, or simply pushed away. We’ve already heard of one scooter being nicked from the pre-season at Morecambe this year, admittedly that wasn’t locked up.
One area that is being proactive are Humberside. We were contacted by Humberside police, they’ve seen a huge increase in bike and scooter thefts in their area. They realise that in a few weeks time they’ll have 4,000 scooterists in town for the Cleethorpes National Scooter Rally. They’ve launched Operation Yellowfin, an initiative aimed at both locals and rally goers. They’ll be leaflet dropping the pubs over the rally weekend.
You can do your bit to help by thinking about your scooter security before you go to the rally (or any other scooter rally). Chain it to something solid, or other scooters, maybe take a cover to keep it away from prying eyes. The police in Cleethorpes warned us that traveller gangs have been going around in vans, lifting bikes off the street. The rally organisers will also be keeping a close eye on security within the campsite.
Get your Rider’s Against Scooter Crime stickers
We’ve just taken delivery of 10,000 RASC stickers. If you’re heading to the Big 7 National Rally this weekend you’ll get one whilst you’re there. We’ll also be sending them out with shop purchases (once I’m back from the Euro) and we’ll probably be sending packs out to scooter clubs on request.
Comment on this post
Have you been a victim of bike/scooter enabled crime? If so comment on this story. We’d like to share your experiences, give as much info as possible on time, date and locations.
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