Moment moped phone snatchers who stole 72 phones in six weeks targeted lone commuters using phones

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Two mobile phone robbers who stole 72 handsets from a moped in just six weeks have been jailed.

Randy Kavungu, 21, and Darius James, 22, rode a black Beverly ST350 towards their victims, approaching from behind at speed, with the passenger then snatching their phone.

The robbers struck between 7am and 9am as they targeted lone morning commuters using their phones on the way to work.

One victim had a coffee thrown in their face, while another had their finger broken. 

Moment moped phone snatchers who stole 72 phones in six weeks targeted lone commuters using phones

Pictured: Darius James, 22, of Old Farm Road, Barnet

Randy Kavungu (pictured left), 21, and Darius James (pictured right), 22, rode a black Beverly ST350 towards their victims from behind at speed, with the passenger grabbing the phone

The thieves covered their number plate before carrying out the thefts between May 24 and June 30, 2021. This meant that there was no simple way to link the bike and the suspects.

Police used overt police patrols, CCTV, witness testimony and other communications data to build a profile of the two offenders.

Both were arrested on July 14, 2021. 

The thieves covered their number plate before carrying out the thefts between May 24 and June 30, 2021. This meant that there was no simple way to link the bike and the suspects

The thieves covered their number plate before carrying out the thefts between May 24 and June 30, 2021. This meant that there was no simple way to link the bike and the suspects

Police used overt police patrols, CCTV, witness testimony and other communications data to build a profile of the two offenders

Police used overt police patrols, CCTV, witness testimony and other communications data to build a profile of the two offenders

Pictured: Video grab of one of the crimes taking place. The robbers struck between 7am and 9am as they targeted lone morning commuters using their phones on their way to work

Pictured: Video grab of one of the crimes taking place. The robbers struck between 7am and 9am as they targeted lone morning commuters using their phones on their way to work

At Kavungu’s address, officers found a blue Nike jacket and a black Spada helmet, the same as those seen worn in CCTV of the incidents. 

A black puffer jacket, also worn by one of the suspects on various days, was found at James’ address.

Kavungu, of Union Square, Islington, and James, of Old Farm Road, Barnet, both pleaded guilty at Hendon Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, January 3, to offences including robbery and threatening with an offensive weapon. They were each sentenced to four and a half years’ imprisonment.

Randy Kavungu, 21, and Darius James, 22, were each sentenced to four and a half years' imprisonment

Randy Kavungu, 21, and Darius James, 22, were each sentenced to four and a half years’ imprisonment

Detective Inspector Alan Biggs, from Operation Venice, said: 'Kavungu and James set out with a pre-agreed plan to steal the phones of as many people as they could, using a moped to target lone victims in open spaces'

Detective Inspector Alan Biggs, from Operation Venice, said: ‘Kavungu and James set out with a pre-agreed plan to steal the phones of as many people as they could, using a moped to target lone victims in open spaces’ 

Detective Chief Superintendent Lee Hill, Head of the Violent Crime Taskforce, said: 'Our Operation Venice team was set up in direct response to a spike in moped-enabled robberies and as this case demonstrates, they have been working ever since to target repeat offenders and linked series of offending across the capital'

Detective Chief Superintendent Lee Hill, Head of the Violent Crime Taskforce, said: ‘Our Operation Venice team was set up in direct response to a spike in moped-enabled robberies and as this case demonstrates, they have been working ever since to target repeat offenders and linked series of offending across the capital’

Detective Inspector Alan Biggs, from Operation Venice, said: ‘Kavungu and James set out with a pre-agreed plan to steal the phones of as many people as they could, using a moped to target lone victims in open spaces. 

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‘They had no regard for the harm they could have caused by their dangerous driving and it is only by extreme fortune that no-one was more seriously injured.

‘We were determined to catch these two suspects who were causing so much harm within our city. Our investigation involved examining hundreds of hours of CCTV as well as complex mobile phone analysis and we are pleased this means they will now be off our streets and unable to commit further offences for a long time.’

Detective Chief Superintendent Lee Hill, Head of the Violent Crime Taskforce, said: ‘Our Operation Venice team was set up in direct response to a spike in moped-enabled robberies and as this case demonstrates, they have been working ever since to target repeat offenders and linked series of offending across the capital.

‘The team have a unique insight into offending patterns and the way these gangs operate which assists our uniformed officers conducting patrols in hotspot locations.

‘This means they can be in the right place at the right time more often to prevent further offences and hopefully catch those intent on committing crime in the act.’ 

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