The National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (NMPCU) has installed undercover police officers and engaged informants in eight London boroughs, considered to be the capital’s hotspots for mobile phone crime, as part of the wide-ranging investigation, called ‘Operation Prestige’.
In total, the police have made 15 in arrests in Lambeth, 11 in Lewisham, 11 in Croydon, nine in Brent, five in Newham, three in Southwark, one in Tower Hamlets and one in Camden.
They have seized 117 handsets in Lewisham, 67 in Lambeth, 58 in Tower Hamlets, 41 in Brent, 29 in Croydon, five in Camden, four in Southwark and three in Newham.
Detective constable David Baker said: “Operation Prestige targeted London boroughs that needed to be urgently investigated for street robberies.
“We had a single point of contact in each borough that we worked closely with, and we also relied on a lot of information, including from the public.”
Further search warrants have been issued and arrests made in recent weeks.
A man was arrested at a Lewisham business address and then released on bail. Police seized 86 blocked handsets and a further 56 unblocked handsets, among other electrical goods, all suspected stolen. The case is still under investigation.
The NMPCU is still following up stock seized in a search of a premises in Newham in October.
Police confiscated suspected stolen handsets and pirated stock during the search.
NMPCU inspector Chris Paice said its handset seizures broadly reflected consumer tastes, and were largely stolen by street gangs and pick pockets.
Shopkeepers found holding stolen stock, in some cases for resale, have been implicated in some cases.
The NMPCU issues, on average, two search warrants a week. It said mobile phone crime is often linked to possession of firearms and drug trafficking.