POLICE have launched a crackdown on muggers as new figures show a dramatic rise in street robberies in the Capital.
More than 70 officers are set to be involved in uniformed and undercover patrols this weekend in areas identified as “hotspots” for the rising number of robberies.
Operation Arable will see dedicated patrols carried out on Thursday, Friday and Saturday – the days which usually see a spike in muggings.
Police have identified the hours between midnight and 4am as the worst time for muggings, with the culprits often trying to take advantage of revellers on nights out.
Officers will also be distributing leaflets to schools, colleges and universities in a bid to raise security awareness amongst potential victims.
A total of 280 street robberies were recorded last year in the city, up 19 per cent on the previous year’s figure of 235.
Detective Chief Inspector Gary Cunningham said: “Victims are often people who have been out at night and are on their way home.
“They are targets because they may have money and phones in their pocket, and they may be more vulnerable if they have been drinking alcohol.
“Younger people are often targeted because smartphones and iPods are desirable items to steal, and they may be more likely to carry them.
“There are different kinds of street robberies. Some involve looking for a victim while others are opportunistic and carried out in the moment.”
DCI Cunningham added: “We’re trying to bring about long-term change with a strong emphasis on both enforcement and raising awareness. We’ll be targeting known offenders, but we also want people to take security precautions.
“This weekend we’ll have a short, sharp targeted operation. Those operations will continue in the future and we’ll continue to analyse these crimes to target our resources in the right places.”
Councillor Paul Edie, the city’s community safety leader, said: “As this initiative highlights, the public can play a vital role in helping the police with their enquiries so I would urge people to contact them if they feel they have anything which might help lead to an arrest. It is important that members of the public work with police and community safety officers to address crime issues in their areas.”
Staying safe on streets
Safety tips to avoid street robberies:
Keep away from secluded alleyways and buildings
Plan your route avoiding short-cuts
Walk facing traffic so you can see who’s approaching
If you think you’re being followed, phone a friend and head for an area where there are other people or open businesses
Wait at a bus stop at night in a well-lit area
Invest in a personal alarm, If you feel threatened, use it or shout for help.