Oxford Street phone thieves jailed over muggings spree
Moped gang struck more than 100 times
13 October, 2017 — By Joe Cooper
A picture of one of the gang that was taken by a quick-thinking photographer
A GANG of moped thieves who carried out more than 100 phone muggings in just 16 days have been jailed.
Three men from Islington, and a fourth accomplice who has not been caught, wrought havoc across north London and Westminster during April and May this year.
Armed with hammers and metal bars, ringleader Claude Parkinson, aged 18, of Thornhill Square, Barnsbury, and two teenagers who cannot be named due to their age, pounced on unsuspecting victims using stolen mopeds.
All three pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday to conspiracy to rob. Parkinson was locked up for five years and three months. The two teens, aged 15 and 16, were each jailed for four years and two months.
The spree climaxed in May when they terrorised Oxford Street shoppers and targeted pedestrians, including former chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne, outside BBC Television Centre.
On one occasion, the gang were spotted by a quick-thinking photographer, who took the opportunity to capture the criminals in action, later leading to their identification.
The thieves would travel to Bethnal Green where they met Samsul Chowdhury, 40, and exchanged the stolen goods for cash.
When his home was raided police found 35 phones, several laptops and other stolen items. Chowdhury was raking in thousands of pounds every week by selling on the phones, some as far away as Bangladesh.
Chowdhury, of Usk Street, who had pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods, was sentenced to four years and 10 months’ imprisonment.
Detective Superintendent Jess Ruddell, of Westminster Police, said: “Criminals such as these rely on the unwariness of the public to snatch their phones while they make calls, so it is important that the public is aware of their surroundings at all times and protect their personal property, particularly when emerging from a train or underground station or anywhere where they might suddenly decide to take out and use their phone.”