Police are seeking to reassure residents and have urged vigilance in Richmond and Putney after a spate of robberies and attacks against cyclists in the area.
A Met Police statement published Tuesday evening (October 12) said they had increased patrols after three attacks against cyclists within a week, two of which reportedly involved thieves brandishing machetes. The warning arrived a day after the most recent incident, in which a cyclist was reportedly assaulted by thieves carrying a machete who stole his bike in the area of Putney High Street around 5.09pm on Monday, prompting an armed police response.
"Many people in the area would have seen these reports on social media and will understandably be concerned. I can reassure you that we are doing everything we can to track down those responsible for these terrible crimes," Chief Superintendent Elisabeth Chapple from the Met's south west London team said Tuesday.
"Everyone should be able to feel safe when using Richmond Park and that's why I have arranged for additional officers to be in the area over the comings days. They will work alongside our dedicated Royal Parks officers and I would encourage anyone with concerns to approach them, or to call 999 in an emergency," she added. Details of the most recent attack on Monday were confirmed by a Met Police spokesperson, who said:
"Police were called at 17:09hrs on 11 October to High Street SW15 after a man was reported to have been assaulted by two males who then stole his bicycle.
"One of the suspects was reported to be in possession of a machete and so armed officers responded.
"An area search was conducted, however the suspects could not be traced.
"The victim was taken to hospital as a precaution but was not seriously injured.
"No arrests; enquiries ongoing."
That incident followed a similar attack in the nearby Richmond Park area last week (Thursday, October 7), when professional cyclist Alexander Richardson was attacked by machete-wielding thieves on motorbikes who rammed him into the ground and stole his bicycle at knife-point.
"Please be careful in the area and note that this is becoming a common occurrence in parts of London," Alexander wrote in a social media post describing the attack.
The Met Police said that two other assaults on cyclists had recently been reported in the area. On October 6, a day prior to Alexander's experience, officers responded to reports that a woman had her bike stolen after men riding e-scooters pushed her off it on Sawyers Hill.
Similarly a man in his 50s was reportedly pushed from his bike by men riding a moped near Roehampton Gate on Monday at a similar time to the attack in Putney. There have been no arrests so far in connection with these incidents. Detective Inspector Gavin Collins, from Operation Venice, the Met's response to moped enabled crime, said: "These incidents would have been incredibly frightening for those involved and I would like to reassure the victims and the public that we are doing everything we can to track down these dangerous individuals.
"I would ask anyone who was in or around the park at the time of any of the incidents to check for any dashcam or cycle helmet footage. This could be key to helping us track down those responsible".
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 giving the reference 5103/07OCT. Information can also be provided to Crimestoppers, anonymously, by calling 0800 555 111.