London

Three held in police raids targeting London moped gangs

Moped gang
Image caption The suspects were detained during early morning raids in Southwark

Three men have been arrested as part of an inquiry into high-value street robberies and shop raids in London by gangs using mopeds.

The suspects were detained over four recent thefts of luxury merchandise worth thousands of pounds, police said.

Officers were acting on intelligence collected over three months on an organised moped crime gang.

Metropolitan and City of London Police officers raided four addresses in Southwark, where an axe was seized.

Figures show mopeds were used in 23,000 crimes in London over the last 12 months, compared to about 8,000 the year before, the Met said.

Image caption Police recovered an axe during one of the raids

Following the raids the suspects - two 18-year-olds and one aged 24 - remain in police custody.

They were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to rob, commercial burglary and possession with intent to supply drugs.

The raids were part of the Met Police's Operation Winter Nights - a seasonal centrally co-ordinated crack-down on knife crime, scooter, moped and motorbike-enabled crime, corrosive substance-related offences and criminal activity at winter markets.

Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said she was "pretty confident" the force had a "good handle" on the problem.

A large number of these offences are carried out by a "small number" of people, she told BBC Radio London, and added that "we're catching them and locking them up".

Image caption An 18-year-old man was among those arrested

The latest raids came after two attacks in one week in November on shops in Regent Street.

However, the Met said the three arrests were not connected to the ongoing investigations into the Apple and Canada Goose store raids.

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