ON 26TH NOVEMBER last year, two young men came up with a plan which led them straight to jail just four months later.
The two characters are Zuriel Hutson (21) of Islington and Sharuk Sheraji (22) of Hoxton Street N1. On the afternoon of Saturday, 26th November, the two set off, with Hutson driving a stolen moped and Sheraji riding as the pillion passenger. As they drove through London they stole mobile phones from innocent pedestrians who were making calls. They pocketed ten phones in Westminster (missing one they attempted to take), three in Camden, two in Islington, two in Hackney – and one in Tower Hamlets.
The Metropolitan Police has a special response to reports of snatch offences committed by moped riders – Operation Attrition. As soon as reports of these offences came in, a team of unmarked police cars was mobilised. Additional support was received from a helicopter from the National Police Air Service. The team quickly spotted the two thieves – their attention drawn to them because of their dangerous driving – in Whitehall Street, N17.
When he realised they had been spotted, Sheraji jumped off the moped and tried to make his getaway. He was caught by police officers, who found he was carrying the 18 phones the pair had stolen – and arrested him. Seventeen of the 18 phones were later reunited with their owners.
Hutson decided to make matters worse for himself and endanger the lives of innocent people. He drove the moped off – going along the North Circular and M11, often on the wrong side of the carriageway, weaving in and out of the traffic. Several cars had to swerve to avoid him, resulting in some minor collisions. He had one collision himself as he tried to squeeze between two cars – resulting in him skidding along the road and tearing the shoes off his feet.
Somehow Hutson started up his moped again and continued with his “getaway” – riding up the hard shoulder on the wrong side of the M11. Police closed off parts of the M11 for safety reasons and then used a stinger to slow Hutson down. Police stopped him on the slip road between the M11 and M25. Hutson’s last defiance was to try to run away – despite having no shoes on. Police arrested him on suspicion of robbery, failing to stop, dangerous driving, attempting to drive away and not having any insurance.
The two thieves met up again on 31st March – when they were sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court. Sheraji pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and was sentenced to two years in prison. Hutson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and dangerous driving and was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. Both also pleaded guilty to breaching Criminal Behaviour Orders.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Heatley said that the police were pleased to see that these two individuals received strong sentences. These were not victimless crimes – and Hutson in particular could have caused serious injury to innocent motorists, or worse. Heatley warned the public to remain vigilant if they had to use their phones in public.