Detectives are appealing for assistance from the public to help locate a gang of knife-point robbers who have targeted victims on a Hackney canal towpath.
Police are investigating several robberies along the River Lea in Hackney close to the border with Waltham Forest, within the vicinity of the Lea Valley Marina, E5.
At 22:15hrs on Tuesday, 1 August, a 31-year-old man entered the canal towpath outside of the Crescent Rowing Club on Spring Hill. He was riding his bicycle when he was approached by four men who were described as black and aged between 18 and 23 years of age, who were also riding mountain bikes. All of the men had their faces covered with scarves and had their hoods up. They blocked the victim’s path and demanded his property before rifling through his pockets and repeatedly punching him in the face. They stole his phone and wallet.
The men demanded the PIN number for his bank card and threatened to stab him. The suspects then cycled north. The victim made his way to the nearby Anchor and Hope pub where he raised the alarm.
Within a few minutes of this robbery, a second man, aged 39, was approached by a group of men as he rode his bicycle near the river path at High Hill Ferry, E5. The suspects, who are described as black, pushed him off his cycle before punching and kicking him as he lay on the ground.
They stole a bank card, a watch, a silver crucifix necklace and his house keys. The victim, who sustained a leg injury in the assault, fled the scene and flagged down a passer-by who contacted police.
At 23:30hrs the following day, Wednesday, 2 August, three men, aged in their early 20s, were walking close to the Springfield Marina, E5. They were approached by three black suspects, aged in their late teens to early 20s, riding bikes.
The victims were all assaulted; one of them had a large black handled kitchen knife held to his throat. Their phone and bank cards were stolen.
The fourth offence occurred at 00:10hrs on Friday, 4 August as the 39-year-old victim was riding close to the Crescent Rowing Club. He was approached by a group of men, again on bikes. They initially allowed him to pass as he crossed the bridge near to the rowing club. The masked men chased him but fled empty-handed towards Haringey.
Detective Inspector Paul Ridley, from Hackney CID is leading the investigation, said: “The brutality the robbers have used is very concerning, holding a knife to the throat of one of the terrified victims and subjecting others to violent attacks.
“The robbers appear to be targeting canal path users which provides rapid access and escape routes, particularly when using a cycle.
“The canal towpath is likely to be busy, especially over the course of the weekend. Please remain vigilant and if you see any individuals of concern, call police immediately. Do not attempt to challenge the robbers, there is a distinct possibility they will be armed.
“If you have been the victim at the hands of these men and have not already informed us, please come forward. I would also like to appeal to the boating community in the area to inform my investigation team if they have any information.
“I would like to reassure residents that patrols have been stepped up and officers are on alert.”
Enquiries are ongoing with colleagues from Waltham Forest and Haringey to establish whether the suspects are linked to any further robberies along the canal towpath.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Hackney CID via 101 or via Twitter @MetCC quoting operation name ‘Glanford’.
To give information anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit crimestoppers-uk.org