Warning issued to students after rise in moped attacks in Manchester
- Police fear they will lose their jobs if they chase criminals on mopeds
- Moped crimes have risen 1,000% in the last three years nationally
A warning has been issued by police to students in Manchester about the dangers of moped street thefts.
The warning follows a series of violent robberies carried out by knife wielding thugs across the country, the government has begun talks on changing the law to protect police officers chasing criminals on mopeds.
Comedian Michael Mcintyre was this week targeted by moped thieves for his Rolex watch, while on Tuesday a woman was left fighting for her life after she was punched by a man on a moped in an attempt to steal her mobile phone.
Jewellery heists, phone thefts and acid attacks are rife as scooters make it easier for thieves to escape from the scene.
PCSO Lucy Nicholas, from Longsight police station, said: “With these thefts, it is mainly students being targeted because they are the ones with their iPhones out texting and speaking.
“With the snatch thefts, it is normally a man or a gang on a moped who comes up behind a pedestrian, catches them by surprise and takes the phone. By the time the police are alerted, there is little that can be done.”Police in Manchester are warning students in particular to be wary when they text or take phone calls in public places.
Man Met student Maria Traianou, 21, was walking along Greenheys Lane West in Hulme when she was targeted by a thief on a moped.
“I didn’t see his face as he came from behind and was covered up with a beanie hat. I’m more aware now and suspicious. I definitely won’t be walking while calling anyone again,” she said.
Criminals are targeting smartphones as most are worth up to £500 and can be easily sold on. It Is suspected that many are exported and sold for hundreds of pounds and more if they contain personal information.
Maria said: “It has definitely affected my everyday life very much. I currently don’t have a phone with access to the internet and I find it very inconvenient so far. I had saved up for two years for the one that was stolen.
"So I’d say it really affected me in regards to convenience and in long-term it has affected mostly my financial state for the next few months.”
Police say they have increased patrols in certain areas and advise students to remain alert and keep phones out of sight in public places.
After teenager Henry Hicks died in 2014 after losing control of his moped while being chased by two unmarked police cars, police officers say they fear losing their jobs if a chase ends catastrophically.
Sergeant Tim Rogers from the Police Federation said: “There are many officers up and down the country who have reservations about doing the job they are expected to do."
"It's great the government is committed to change, but ministers need to act now to change the law to legally protect officers pursuing suspects on mopeds.