LONDON — Katherine McKenna, a paramedic, is one of a growing number of victims of robberies and acid attacks in Britain in which the perpetrators use mopeds.
The 32-year-old’s phone was snatched when a scooter mounted a busy sidewalk on a street in central London late last month. She was about to respond to a call to help an elderly man who fell down some stairs.
“I was really shocked. I could not believe that it happened and I was angry,” McKenna, who works for the London Ambulance Service, said Friday.
The organization was appealing for witnesses at a time when moped-riding gangs are being blamed for helping to fuel the biggest rise in crime in England and Wales in a decade. Recent figures from Britain’s Office for National Statistics show police recorded nearly 5 million crimes in the year ending March 2017 — an annual rise of 10%.
The report said 41% of robberies reported to police occurred in London.
“Sadly this type of attack is common. They are hurting people; they are putting other people in danger on the roads and pavements but they are also a danger to themselves,” McKenna said. She said she has treated many people who have been seriously injured by moped-riding thieves. Often, they also injure themselves.
The three thieves on two mopeds who targeted McKenna wore helmets that concealed their identities. They remain at large.
Last month, hundreds of delivery riders on mopeds protested outside the U.K.’s Parliament after five acid attacks within a three-mile radius in London in just 90 minutes.
Two of the victims worked for the food delivery firms UberEATS and Deliveroo and were seriously injured. Another victim sustained life-changing injuries.
Jabed Hussain, one of the delivery drivers, was attacked with acid before his moped was stolen. He said many drivers were now refusing to work after 8 p.m. and others were looking to leave their jobs out of fear of more attacks.
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