In the Media

Teenage gang members 'carry out burglaries as initiation'

PUBLISHED August 22, 2012

Research shows that gangs - who have previously been more known for fighting off youths from rival postcode areas - are now diversifying into stealing from homes in their own neighbourhoods, to raise cash.

Some appeared to be committing the crimes simply "because they can", according to one police commander.

It is feared that the trend may be driving a rise in the number of residential break-ins in some inner city areas, that have left some afraid to leave their homes.

A report by Brent council in north London found a 12% rise in burglaries.

It said: "Initial information suggests suspects are increasingly young people from the local area associating with gangs and highly-organised and mobile suspects who are operating across a number of boroughs."

According to Scotland Yard, a quarter of all violent burglaries in London are committed by gangs.

The trend is a move away from the traditional profile of a burglary suspect who is typically older and with a history of substance misuse and previous offences, according to the report.

Brent councillor Zaffar Van Kalwala, who commissioned the research, said "What concerns me is that gang members never used to commit crimes on their own doorstep but that is what seems to be happening now.

"These gangs are all about defending their own postcodes, I have two gangs in my own ward who cannot travel between their two estates yet they are now robbing houses in their own area."

Brent borough police commander Matt Gardner said: "There are gang members who are going out to commit burglaries among other crimes.

"They are doing it because it is part of an organised crime network, an initiation rite or just because they can."