Masked moped hoodlums causing havoc in St Albans

Masked youths riding mopeds are marauding around St Albans.

Masked youths riding mopeds are marauding around St Albans. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Masked moped hoodlums have been marauding through St Albans torching motorbikes and intimidating residents.

The group of teenagers, estimated to be 15 years old, has been reported riding around on mopeds without licence plates or helmets, but with their faces covered, committing anti-social behaviour offences in Cottonmill and the surrounding area.

Herts Police say they cannot pursue bikers without helmets in case theyfall and seriously injure themselves.

Local resident Angela MacDonald said she believes they are responsible for stealing her partner’s motorbike, and leaving it burnt out in a field by her house.

The family was on holiday when it happened and she says she now feels unsafe: “I wouldn’t like to be face to face with them, it does freak you out a bit if I am here on my own - they have already taken the bike but they might come back.

“It makes me feel unsafe, it’s not nice and I don’t like it, especially with two young kids.”

She calls them ‘chancers’ - people in the right place at the right time, out for “a bit of fun” who do not care about collateral damage.

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Angela reports three other bikes thefts in the area, two of which were found burnt out nearby.

Another resident, who did not wish to be named, said she saw three teenagers on bikes, matching the same description, trying to steal petrol in Park Street.

The 40-year-old woman said: “They were just looking really shifty - with no number plates, hoods up, hats on, and balaclavas, or a mixture of the lot, and I thought ‘I am not getting out of the car with my little one’.”

She watched one of the group go up to a pump, but they did not anticipate that licence plate recognition was being used and petrol would not be dispensed - forcing them to leave empty-handed.

She added: “I was just a bit surprised and shocked, and you know when you get an instinct, as soon as I saw them I thought they were up to no good.”

Another resident, Ruth Cassidy, had a run in with four boys on motorbikes while she was walking towards Hatfield on the Alban Way - they revved their engines while whizzing past, scaring her children. She said: “It was intimidating. The revving engines shocked me, woke up the baby and had the toddler in tears. I wouldn’t have liked to have been on my own.”

St Albans district councillor for Ashley, Matt Farrell, is encouraging witnesses to report the incidents to the police: “It appears this is not a localised issue in St Albans but it is possibly linked to similar activity elsewhere in the county with the bikes being moved between areas to evade detection, so there is a greater impact than what has been seen on the Alban Way.

“The most important step initially is to help the police identify who is involved. I will be contacting representatives of Neighbourhood Watch with advice passed on from the police about the types of evidence that could be useful.”

Ch Insp for St Albans, Shane O’Neill, also encouraged any incidents to be reported: “It’s well known that the police can’t pursue the bikers because if they came off they could suffer serious injuries. The anti-social behaviour is being investigated and the incidents are being taken very seriously.

“Moped thefts are on the rise so I would ask that people do their best to secure their mopeds, because many get stolen.”

He emphasised that the St Albans Safer Neighbourhood Team is working hard to identify the perpetrators.

In an email from the Neighbourhood Watch to members sent this week, residents were advised: “Police are aware of the recent incidents regarding the motorbikes and mopeds in and around St Albans.

“If you see them please call police and provide as much descriptions as possible of the bikes and of the offending clothing. Police are investigating these incidents.”

Anyone with information should contact the police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.