Police hunt 'smash and grab' moped gang that stole designer handbags worth more than £300,000

The moped gang raid a Prada store in Bond Street, London, last monthMet Police

Police are hunting an axe-wielding moped gang responsible for a series of smash and grab raids at West End designer fashion stores.

The brazen thieves have struck at Fendi, Miu Miu, Hugo Boss, Browns, House of Fraser and Prada stores in the past month, stealing handbags and other items valued at more than £300,000 (€339,000).

The gang is armed with axes, knives and crowbars, with its late-night raids lasting just a few minutes.

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During a recent robbery at Prada in Old Bond Street, central London, a security guard was beaten over the head with a cosh just seconds after the gang had driven a scooter through the display window.

The security guard, who is his 60s, was taken to hospital. He is now recovering at home, but designer handbags worth over £100,000 were stolen in the two-minute raid on 21 September, which took place a 3.45am.

Images of those involved in the attack have been released by police today (3 October) after the five suspects fled the scene on scooters.

Detectives have linked the attack to five other similar West End raids because of the tactics used, dark clothing and black mopeds used by the gang.

The glass door of a Fendi store was smashed and around £200,000 of handbags and purses stolen when the gang struck on 5 September.

Lightning-quick raids

Hugo Boss in New Bond Street had its front windows broken, and eight suspects fled on four mopeds with around £10,000 of goods.

Up to four suspects on two bikes forced their way into Browns in South Molton Street through a back door in the early hours of 27 September, getting away with over £10,000 of goods.

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On 2 October, the gang on three mopeds went at the window of Mulbery in New Bond Street with a claw hammer. But they left empty handed after failing to gain entry.

DC Paul Clarke from Westminster CID, who is leading the police investigation, said: "These 'smash and grab attacks' last only a few minutes but are committed by individuals who are carrying weapons including axes, knives and crowbars."

He added: "As well as the criminality of the burglaries, our concern is also that they have not hesitated to use violence to ensure their raids remain undisturbed."

Chief Superintendent Peter Ayling, borough commander for Westminster, said they were boosting undercover patrols in the area.

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He said: "We have a committed team of expert investigators reviewing many hours of CCTV footage and exploring forensic opportunities. Both high visibility and covert patrols are taking place in and around the areas where these gangs have been shown to operate.

"Through our excellent working relationships with businesses and stores in the area we are working hard to prevent further offences. These brazen criminals will find their luck runs out soon and they will be brought to justice."

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