Robbery gangs have turned to using pushbikes in the face of a police crackdown on moped crime, it has been revealed.
Both the Metropolitan and City of London police have seen a rise in the number of crimes involving pedal bikes in the past year.
Some victims even reported thieves dressed in smart clothes to look like ordinary commuters.
The Metropolitan Police saw the number of moped crimes fall from 15,168 between December 2017 and November 2018, down to 8,721 in the 12 months after.
This was largely due to Operation Venice, a crackdown that saw the use of controversial tactics including knocking suspects off mopeds.
But the Metropolitan Police said that in the year to February 9, it recorded 2,325 robberies where the suspect was riding a pushbike, up from 1,380 the previous year.
And the City of London Police recorded 169 bicycle-enabled robberies in 2019, compared to just 58 on mopeds.
New crackdown to tackle problem
The Met has launched a three-month crackdown called Operation Gilera. It will see officers on both motorbikes and pushbikes on patrol in hotspots including Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea.
Detective Chief Inspector Shaun White said: "This operation has been set up as our response to tackle, arrest and prosecute those who think that they can use push bikes to rob pedestrians going about their daily business.
"The suspects are using the same tactics that criminals were using in the summer of 2017, when we saw a peak of moped-enabled crime, prompting us to launch Operation Venice.
"Venice had significant successes and, as such, it appears criminals now think that they can use pedal cycles instead to evade police. They are wrong.”
Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea collectively saw 352 offences in the year to February 9, nearly double the 180 recorded in the previous year.
The force's Central North area, covering Camden and Islington, saw an increase of 70.5 per cent to 689 offences, up from 404 the previous year.