Growing smash and grab problem prompts West End security patrols

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09:  The smashed windows of a jewellery store in Ealing Broadway shopping centre following a night of rioting in Ealing on August 9, 2011 in London, England. Sporadic looting, arson and clashes with police continued for a third day in parts of the capital, as well as in Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol.  (Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

A private security firm has begun mounting motorcycle patrols following 16 thefts on stores around Bond Street this year, with one raid taking £400,000 worth of watches.

Luxury jewellery and fashion retailers have been targeted by thieves, often using mopeds to crash through windows or doors, according to security firm The Keyholding Company, which has set up The Safer Support Team – a proactive patrol team and intelligence network.

The motorcycles are equipped with hi-tech, fisheye cameras which stream real time images to police who are then able to act. Patrols will cover the areas of Oxford Street and Bond Street and, according to the Evening Standard, organisers of the scheme say they have already foiled one suspected raid.

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Additionally, in a pilot run, backed by the Met, three moped riders behaving suspiciously were arrested after a patrol alerted the police. The firm plans to extend the scheme to Sloane Square.

Charlie Gordon Lennox, chief executive of Keyholding, told ES that the patrols would help to take pressure off the police. He added that the motorcycles, painted in black and grey will aim to be a visual deterrent and can respond quickly to raids.

To mark the launch of The Safer Support Team patrols, the security firm held an event in Mayfair for local business and the Met police to learn more about the program and review the crime response technology used.

The pilot is being funded and resourced by The Keyholding Company as a contribution to the community, they say.

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