Calling time on blight of street mugging

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A POLICE crackdown on muggers has been hailed as a “major blow” to criminals following a 30 per cent drop in street muggings in the Capital.

Officers have made nearly 100 arrests as part of Operation Arable, launched in the wake of soaring numbers of assault and robberies in the city.

Suspects have been charged with offences including robbery, possession of offensive weapons, handling stolen goods and serious assault.

Police chiefs today said the crack-down had helped stop criminals preying on victims on the streets of Edinburgh, but added that the force did not intend to “rest on its laurels”.

New figures released today revealed that 61 street robberies were committed between May and last month compared with 86 for the previous three months during which Operation Arable was being run.

A total of 280 street robberies were recorded in the city last year, up 19 per cent on the previous year’s 235.

Detective Chief Inspector Gary Cunningham said: “These street robberies are despicable crimes so it’s not just about the number of crimes we have solved, it’s about the number of crimes we have prevented these individuals from going on to commit.

“Operation Arable has struck a major blow against the activities of criminals engaged in robbery and associated crimes.

“While this reduction is welcome, we do not intend to rest on our laurels, and we will continue to focus on preventing muggings and associated crimes through a combination of enforcement and education.”

He added: “Operation Arable has used a variety of tactics to target criminals, including CCTV and plain-clothes patrols. We have also carried out a range of disruption activity, including the use of uniformed patrols in busy areas, in order to deter criminality.”

Under the crackdown, dedicated patrols were carried out, particularly on Thursday, Friday and Saturday – the days which usually see a spike in 

Police 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. In addition, an advertising campaign with the message “Don’t Flash Your Cash” has been used to promote safety.

The popularity of smartphones, MP3 players and tablet computers has been blamed for the 16 per cent increase in robberies this year, with thieves taking advantage of users being distracted as they text and check social networking sites while on the move.

More than 12,000 mobile phones have been stolen in Edinburgh in the last four years, with muggers as young as nine years old arrested for stealing the expensive devices. Figures showed a rising number of muggings where victims were robbed of their phones, with 38 reported in the first four months of this year.

DCI Cunningham added: “Mobile phone users often present an easy target for muggers, and we are encouraging people to take advantage of the many security features available on their device, including tracking technology.

“The same advice applies to other popular and portable items such as laptops and tablets, which offer the same lure to would-be criminals.”

Councillor Cammy Day, the city’s community safety leader, said: “I welcome the results of this operation as the fall in street robberies shows that the targeted police operation has been successful.

“In addition to police activity such as additional high-
visibility patrols the public can also take simple crime prevention steps to prevent themselves becoming victims such as activating security devices on mobile phones.”

Staying safe

Police advice to avoid becoming a victim:

• Don’t flash expensive phones or music players, even when asked the time

• When possible, don’t walk home alone at night

• Keep away from secluded alleyways and buildings and 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

• Be especially alert when using cash machines

• If anyone does try to take your belongings, let go. Your safety is more important

Teens assaulted for wallet

POLICE are hunting two thugs who assaulted and robbed a pair of teenage boys and stole a wallet.

The 17-year-olds were making their way towards Drummond Street when they passed two men standing at the junction of Infirmary Street and High School Yards.

One of the teenagers was punched in the face by a suspect, causing him to fall to the ground during the incident at 12.30am yesterday. The suspect then continued to assault the victim and demanded he hand over his money. The other suspect grabbed the victim’s friend.

Both suspects then made off towards Infirmary Lane with the teenager’s wallet.

The first suspect is described as white, 17 to 19 years old, 5ft 7in tall with a skinny build, clean shaven face and black hair. He was wearing a dark blue hooded top, black nylon Adidas tracksuit bottoms with

red stripes and spoke with a Scottish accent.

The second suspect is described as white, 17 to 19 years old, 5ft 5in tall with a medium build, chubby cheeks and short light-coloured hair. He was wearing a red hooded top, grey Adidas jogging bottoms and silver pendant.

News nabs thug

A TEENAGER who fractured a man’s skull, cheekbone and

jaw in a brutal attack was snared thanks to the Evening News.

David Gilroy knocked a stranger unconscious with a punch after he was refused entry to a nightclub during last year’s Festival.

The 18-year-old may have believed he had escaped justice over the assault in Bristo Square, but detectives passed CCTV images to the News in December.

Within days, Gilroy had been identified following publication, and the teenager appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court earlier this month to plead guilty to assault and now faces a jail sentence.

Gilroy, of Ferry Road Drive, attacked Christopher Cathcart, 45, at around 2.30am on August 27 last year.

Pensioners targeted

A GRANDFATHER who walks with a Zimmer frame was mugged on his own doorstep as he returned from a visit to his local charity shop.

The 81-year-old army veteran was pushed against the wall by the muggers, who stole £80 from him along with a pair of memorial cards he kept to remember late friends.

The victim had returned to his block of flats in Dalry Road when the thieves struck on August 11.

Last November, another pensioner who walked with a Zimmer frame was attacked in his own front garden by a robber who punched him to the ground then stole his jewellery.

George Comisky, left, had just walked the few hundreds yards from his local pub to his home in Lady Menzies Place, Leith when he was set upon by a man in his early 20s.

The 78-year-old, who was still recovering from a broken back and pelvis sustained the previous year, was punched in the face and fell with his frame landing on top of him.

Sickening attack

A DISABLED woman was assaulted and robbed in broad daylight by a thug who dislocated her shoulder as he stole her bag.

Rosena Stewart was walking to the supermarket to buy

a birthday card

for her niece

when her handbag was snatched in West Granton Road on

June 7.

The 52-year-old, who has Huntington’s Disease, a neurological disorder which causes cognitive decline and psychiatric problems, was rushed to the Western General Hospital before being transferred to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where she was treated for the badly dislocated shoulder.

Police later described the attack as “a sickening and opportunistic assault and robbery on a clearly vulnerable woman” and appealed for anyone with information to help trace the culprit to come forward.

It is understood no one has yet been charged over the incident.