Police foil ‘network' of pickpockets who targeted mosh-pits at Enter Shikari gigs

Friday, 13th March 2015

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POLICE and club staff teamed up to block a gang of mobile phone thieves who were believed to be following a hit metal band across the country to target their teenage fans, the New Journal can reveal. 

Officers in Camden said they reacted after receiving intelligence that an “organised criminal network” was trailing Enter Shikari – whose metal-dance music crossover has inspired a legion of loyal young fans – on their UK tour.

The case has led to a warning for heavy metal music fans to watch out for pickpockets in “mosh-pits” – the part of a dancefloor close to the stage where gig-goers traditionally bounce up and down to the music.

Police intervened ahead of the final dates of the tour at the Roundhouse, in Chalk Farm Road, last month and worked with the venue’s security team to thwart the would-be thieves. 

They believe the gigs were targeted because high levels of physical contact in mosh-pits make it easier for pickpockets to go unnoticed.  

PC Craig Austin, from Camden’s licensing team, said: “Police forces share information and it was noted that colleagues in Wolverhampton had successfully disrupted the activities of one organised criminal network which had been following this band on their tour.”

He said officers were sent to “support the venue’s own security measures and to provide community reassurance” ahead of sell-out shows on February 26 and 27. 

The band’s 2007 album, Take to the Skies, was given Gold certification for selling more than 100,000 copies, while A Flash Flood of Colour reached number four in the UK album charts in 2012. 

Their manager, Ian Johnsen, said he was not aware of any “countrywide issues concerning the security around Enter Shikari concerts, outside of what is normal for sold-out shows of this capacity and energy”.

PC Austin said the Roundhouse had “suffered badly from thefts” during an Enter Shikari gig in 2012 and, as a result, had set up a “voluntary action plan with Camden Police to readdress security protocols and create a high-risk gig plan”.

He added: “Heavy metal-type gigs in particular often have a mosh pit in front of the stage where revellers can dance to the music in close proximity and legitimately bump into each other. 

“This can provide an opportunity for thieves to use the activity to enable pickpocketing, usually for phones but also for wallets and purses.”

James Heaton, deputy director of operations at the Roundhouse, said: “Sadly, crowds at live entertainment events across the country seem to have been targeted by phone thieves in recent years. 

“We’ve invested a significant amount in enhancing our security arrangements and work closely with the police to keep organised crime out of the venue and ensure that our audiences continue to have a great Roundhouse experience.”

Mr Johnsen said: “We are always mindful of the security and safety of our fans and we will work with the Roundhouse security and the local Camden police force to understand more of the detail so that, should we elect to return to the Roundhouse for any future gigs, we can ensure that any problems the venue may have with issues of theft etc do not impact on Enter Shikari’s audience, and work to help cut down on repeat issues at other artists’ performances there.”

PC Austin said police had created a list of 10 venues most affected by theft in Camden and had worked with them over the last three years, leading to a 68 per cent reduction in theft at these venues.

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