Det Ch Supt Owain Richards, who is in charge of policing across the five west London boroughs which constitute the central-west borough command unit, on Wednesday told The Telegraph: “We have seen a rise in these types of robberies over recent weeks as criminals take advantage of the longer days and the busier streets. We know similar increases have occurred in other areas of the city.
“We want people living in and visiting London to enjoy our city safely – no one should have to go about their day in fear of thieves.
“We know the impact these crimes have on each and every victim and that is why we have extra officers in place in locations where these crimes are most common. This includes those from specialist units, like our Operation Venice teams.
“We are also reminding people to remain aware of their surroundings and where possible, keep valuables out of sight.”
The Met’s long-running Operation Venice seeks to tackle crime carried out by criminals riding motorbikes and mopeds – traditionally the favoured form of getaway for robbers – or electric bikes, which are increasingly being used too.
Tactics deployed by specialist units include the use of a police vehicle to ram the fleeing thieves off their bikes.
A greater number of high-visibility police patrols have been promised in hotspot areas like the West End, along with the deployment of plain-clothed police officers.
In a call for public vigilance, the force said the first few hours of investigations are “key” to catching the criminals and anyone who witnesses – or falls victim to – a robbery should immediately ring 999.
The public are also advised to stay aware of their surroundings and who is nearby, to keep valuables, including watches, concealed, and to plan their route home.