Moped gangs are impersonating traffic police to pull over vehicles and threaten the occupants, in an escalation of the two-wheeled crimewave sweeping London.
Police warned motorists to be aware of the latest ploy after they were called when a cab was boxed in on Chelsea Embankment by two riders pretending to be undercover officers.
Both had fitted their helmets with blue flashing lights, which they switched on as they pulled alongside the car taking American tourists back to their hotel in Battersea at about 1.40am last Friday.
The black-clad, masked bikers told the occupants, a 44-year-old woman and her friends, that the cab had run a red light, but the passengers became suspicious when the riders refused to identify themselves.
They called 999, and the bikers fled.
In an email to residents, a police officer wrote: “Worrying report today where a taxi was made to stop by suspects on a moped and motorcycle… Suspects stated that they were undercover police.
“Luckily the taxi and passengers were able to get away unscathed … however it’s an intimidating situation to be in. I would like to reassure all that police would not use mopeds to stop a moving vehicle.” The number of crimes using mopeds in London has soared from 827 in 2012 to more than 23,000 in 2017.
In an incident on June 21, four thugs attempted to rob a mother while she was with her child in Richmond.
The Met police are using new tactics to deal with moped crime, including decoy bikes, identifying sprays and remote-controlled puncture spikes.
Former Met detective David Videcette said: “Police are struggling to deal with moped-enabled crime and criminals are taking advantage of the difficulties police have legally, professionally and practically.”