Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

1,200 Carjacks a Year; Yard's New Figures Show Scale of Crime Is Far Worse Than Feared

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

1,200 Carjacks a Year; Yard's New Figures Show Scale of Crime Is Far Worse Than Feared

Article excerpt

Byline: JUSTIN DAVENPORT;PHILIP NETTLETON

THE FRIGHTENING scale of the carjacking phenomenon in London is revealed today with new figures showing offences running at more than 1,200 a year.

The cases have been compiled in the last few days by officers and analysts at Scotland Yard examining crime records dating back 12 months.

Senior officers are shocked by the extent of the problem, which stretches across society and ranges from violent attacks on owners of high value cars to teenagers being pulled from mopeds in the street.

Street robbers, in particular, are turning from mugging to violent carjacking, often with the aim of stealing valuable items such as mobile phones from within the car rather than the car itself.

One senior officer said today: "It is far worse than anyone imagined. It is being done by a number of organised gangs who have a network of criminals who can sell the cars and change their identities. It is also done by opportunists who are only interested in stealing a car for a joyride or to thrash round on a pizza delivery boy's moped for an hour or two.

"Fortunately, injuries are still very rare but there are a lot of people out there ready to use guns and knives. The level of violence is horrendous when it is used. " Officers fear the problem will only get worse.

Detectives estimate there are around six organised gangs operating in London and stealing cars to order, mainly for sale overseas or to London criminals. However, privately, some detectives say the number may be as high as 20.

Police recently arrested and charged one team operating in London which is believed to have carried out 40 violent carjacks, many at knife- or gunpoint.

A variety of cars are targeted by the gangs, ranging from high-value cars such as Audis, Mercedes and BMWs to cars that are simply used to commit more crime or even to joyride in for a few hours. …

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