An east London man has told that he feared for his life after intervening in a bikejacking and being threatened by 25 teenagers.
Lee Anderson, 44, and his partner Steve, saw a cyclist in Broadway Market, Hackney, being ordered to hand over his bike. The 25 assembled teenagers, some wearing school uniform, were confronted by the pair, who were threatened with stabbing.
The confrontation lasted for about 15 minutes around 8.30pm on Wednesday before the gang ran off to a nearby estate.
Mr Anderson, who works for the charity Kids Company, told the Evening Standard that police told him the attackers are believed to belong to the LFC (London Fields Crew).
Initially police told Mr Anderson they wouldn’t investigate the crime, but owing to social media pressure the police are now looking into the stabbing threat.
Mr Anderson said: “They said they were going to stab us. The video [shot by a neighbour] doesn’t really capture the full extent of it.
“We got his bike back for him. He was really, really pleased. He came over and cuddled us and asked if he could buy us a drink, but we wanted to get home quickly.
“If you see someone being robbed and stand back and do nothing, you just become part of it.
“The police need to start answering questions about what is being done about gang culture in this area,” he said.
“There are so many areas across London where it seems they can get away with stuff. I would like to know why they can’t be prosecuted. They are lawless. We have got kids running around, running whole areas.
“My mum keeps saying ‘don’t get involved’ but I can’t stand by. If you start letting them get away with it, they become less and less frightened of you. I want them to be frightened of the community, and for us to say: ‘We are not going to put up with it.’ Too many people in this country don’t stand up for each other.
“I said to a couple of the boys: ‘Walk away from these gangs you are in.’ I feel sorry for these kids.”
A police statement said: “The man left his bike unattended by railings near Broadway market. A few minutes later he saw another man riding his bike nearby. He challenged the man and recovered his bike. At this point members of the public intervened and an altercation ensued.”
Recently we reported how an average of 10 cyclists in London are being mugged for their bicycle every week, according to the Metropolitan Police, highlighting the growth of what is termed ‘bike-jacking.’
The figures, obtained by BBC News London, show that as many incidents of riders in the capital being intimidated into handing over their bikes were recorded in the last 12 months than in the previous two years.
Police say that many of the 550 incidents involved cyclists attacked on quiet paths at night.
Chief Inspector Mike West of the Metropolitan Police commented: "We scan every day for crimes of note and if we pick up on any trends or analysis which would lead us to a hot spot area to deal with crime then that's what we'll do.
"We'll match our resources to where the problems are and you'll generally see an increased uniformed presence."
In March, the founder of a charity that aims to teach young people skills to help them avoid becoming victims of street crime said that older children were stealing bikes from younger ones, sometimes as part of gang initiation.
Nathaniel Peat, who set up the charity The Safety Box, said: “Often the way [cyclists] dress suggests they might have money which means the bike they’re riding is valuable.
"They wear high-end brands. The kids can tell somebody that’s picked up a top from Primark apart from Zara,” Mr Peat said.
“A lot of young people in affluent areas wear jumpers. In the community [lower socio-economic areas], they’re wearing hoodies.
"Young people can see the difference and can read somebody from the way they dress or the bike that they’re riding.”