Criminals turn to souped-up e-bikes for quick getaways after snatching phones

  • london
  • January 28, 2024
  • Comments Off on Criminals turn to souped-up e-bikes for quick getaways after snatching phones
Criminals turn to souped-up e-bikes for quick getaways after snatching phones thumbnail

Published Jan 28, 2024, 4:36pm|Updated Jan 28, 2024, 5:08pm

Phone thieves in London are fiddling with e-bikes to effectively turn them into motorcycles, ensuring they can make a quick getaway.

The criminals are able to illegally convert the motors in the bicycles to more than 250 watts, while also adding a throttle to stop them having to use the pedals.

Legally, the bikes should not be able to go faster than 15.5mph before they cut out – but police in the City of London have clocked riders doing almost double that speed.

The sneaky modifications also mean they can get around without the need for a licence, tax, insurance or even a helmet after snatching the phone from a passer-by.

But the extent of the alterations mean the bikes are no longer road legal without that documentation, prompting the cops to launch a crackdown.

Since July last year, an average of five e-bikes and e-scooters have been taken off the streets by the City of London Police every week.

Those found riding the souped-up bicycles have them immediately confiscated, and they may also be handed a £300 fine depending on the offence.

Chief Superintendent William Duffy said: ‘This is good, intelligence-led, proactive police work removing these dangerous bikes from our roads and streets.

‘These bikes have been illegally modified and the people who are riding them are generally using them for phone snatching and other criminality.’

The good news is that officers have helped drive down the number of phones being stolen out of people’s hands by 40%.

Between July 2022 and the end of that year, 542 incidents of phone-snatching were recorded in the City.

Over the same period last year, that had fallen to 360 incidents.

Hacked e-bikes and e-scooters aren’t just dangerous for potential victims of phone thefts though – they could put the lives of their owners at risk.

London Fire Brigade has warned that lithium battery fires are the fastest growing type of fire in the capital, and the risk of a blaze increases when they’re illegally modified.

On average, firefighters in London were called out to an e-bike or e-scooter fire once every two days last year.

Last month, a mother and son in Hackney were hospitalised after jumping from their window to escape an e-bike fire, and a man in Liverpool died after trying to save his dad from a fire sparked by an e-bike left charging overnight earlier this month.

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