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Square revamp has fuelled moped phone snatches, say businesses

20 October, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

Phone snatchers’ paradise? The square in Archway

MOPED phone snatching has rocketed in Archway since the gyratory was replaced with a public square, businesses have said.

The square, which was designed to improve the area for cyclists and pedestrians, provides thieves with an ideal stalking ground – and an easy means of escape.

Phone muggings around Archway station have reached crisis levels, with up to five incidents happening every day.

It comes this week as popular cafe Bread and Bean released shocking CCTV footage of a man in a helmet walking into the cafe and snatching a laptop before jumping on the back of a moped and speeding off.

It’s the second time the cafe has been targeted in three weeks.

Footage from a resident posted online last month shows two people on a moped stalking the square late at night, clearly looking for a victim.

A businessman in the area, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, told the Tribune: “This [the square] is the creation of it. It used to happen now and then but now it’s several times a day. I hear it all the time from my customers. They target people sitting on the benches or at the bus stops. One time a man didn’t give them his phone and they came back with a hammer. The police helicopter came out but by then it was too late.”

CCTV image of the raid on Bread and Bean

Junction ward police reacted to the Bread and Bean incident by putting up more warning posters in the area, but the shopkeeper said it was not enough.

“What will that do? The only way to stop it is to have more police on patrol here,” he added.

From the period January to August, there were 274 thefts and robberies reported in the area – with 46 being moped-enabled.

Brian Stone, a Islington Council bin man, said the cycle track running through the square provided easy access for thieves coming from Holloway Road and Highgate Hill.

“I tell everyone I see to put their phones away, but you just have so many people who come out of the station and get them out.”
Yuksel Karagaac, owner of Resurrection Boutique, which faces onto the square, said she had witnessed many more snatchings since the square opened in spring.

“They don’t come straight after one another,” she added. “They will do one and then come back again later.”
Valbona Sadiku, owner of Bread and Bean, said of Tuesday’s laptop theft: “It’s unbelievable that these moped gangs will now actually enter people’s property, it’s gone to another level, it’s horrific.

“The police said they are putting up signs but that is nonsense. They told me there was only three of them.”

Islington Police said after the Bread and Bean incident on Tuesday: “We are aware of this. It has been reported and is being investigated. We will be in Archway putting new signage up tomorrow warning of crime.” They also said extra plain clothes police officers were patrolling the area.

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