They’re used in phone robberies, bag snatches – and now even in acid attacks. They’re easy to steal and hard for the police to pursue. Is there a way to cut this crimewave?

From her office window, Elizabeth O’Neill could see young men on scooters prowling for victims almost every day. “You’d see people waiting at bus stops staring at their phones as these lads were about to snatch them,” she said. “You’d think ‘don’t do it, put your phone away’. And then it happened to me.”

O’Neill, a charity worker, was waiting for a bus “looking at my phone, figuring out where I was going”. It was all over very quickly. “Two lads on a moped snatched it out of my hand and rode off. I felt really stupid.

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