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Next time you’re in London, beware shameless scooter-riding phone thieves

Why it matters to you

A reminder that criminals will try and steal our phones by any means, so stay vigilant when out and about in the city

Anyone who lives in a major city knows the dangers of pickpockets or opportunistic thieves, but not everyone will be on the lookout for phone-snatchers riding scooters. However, video footage released by London’s Metropolitan Police shows why we should all be a little more aware of our surroundings, and tuned to the usually awful sound that accompanies an approaching moped.

The incident in the latest video occurred in November last year, and shows a man in a suit walking casually along the sidewalk while using his phone. A moped with two people riding it suddenly enters the frame, and the pillion rider casually reaches out and grabs the phone from the man, leaving him bewildered as he watches the bike and his phone speed away.

More: Man takes down bike-riding phone thief with a kick

It all happens in less than 6 seconds, and even though the man isn’t making a call at the time of the theft, he’s engrossed enough in what he’s doing not to notice the bike coming up behind him. The police hope by showing how quickly this type of crime happens, people will avoid having their phone on display unless absolutely necessary. And just in case you’re not familiar with London, motorbikes, regardless of the type, are usually found on the road, not the sidewalk.

Sadly, it’s not an isolated incident. At the beginning of the year, CCTV cameras caught another pair of criminals on a moped, targeting people, snatching phones, and riding away. Another, from October, captures a moped crime spree where 21 phones are stolen in just an hour.

At the end of 2016, data from the Metropolitan Police estimated 22 moped-related offenses took place everyday in the city, and that bikes were often stolen before being used in a further crime. Police particularly warn tourists enjoying the city to be protective of their phones.

The Metropolitan Police department is battling what it calls two-wheel-enabled crime in Operation Attrition.