A shocking video showing brazen thieves using an angle grinder to steal a bike in broad daylight has appeared online, prompting debate about what the public should do in that situation.
Footage of the incident, which happened in Hackney, East London earlier this month, was shared on Twitter and was picked up by journalist and cyclist Jeremy Vine.
The Metropolitan Police said it has not received any reports of the theft, but has been made aware of the video, which has prompted debate about what the public should do if they witness a bike theft taking place.
In a tweet, Jeremy Vine said: “What should you do in this situation? The angle grinder is a serious weapon, but then you could grab him from behind…but then again…”
The video shows a group of people with their faces covered, using an angle grinder to free a Brompton which is locked to a railing in a busy street.
Witnesses tried to hold onto the bike as the thieves cut through the lock, but one then threatens them with the angle grinder, before they all flee the scene on bikes. One of the thieves is riding one bike, while pushing another along with him.
While many people suggested the onlookers should have intervened, police in London have said the safest course is to stay back and call 999.
Officers from Stamford Hill Police tweeted: “A group with an angle grinder stealing bikes, I would assume they were organised.
“To do it in such a public place tells me they are prepared for that and probably have measures to protect themselves, meaning probably carrying a knife.
“Stay back, stay safe and call 999.”
They added: “This angers me as much as the next person. Jumping in between them and delivering a few windmills seems like a great idea, but to be smart, to be safest, 999 is the safer option.
“You never know what a criminal like this is carrying or capable of doing to get away.”
The incident happened in Westgate Street, Hackney around two weeks ago, but police were only made aware of the video on Wednesday (February 19).
A statement from the Metropolitan Police said: “Police are aware of a video circulating on social media appearing to show the theft of a bike and threats being made against a member of the public in Westgate Street, Hackney.
“At this time, no report of the actual incident has been made an no victims have come forward.
“Officers were made aware of the video on Wednesday, February 19 and an investigation is underway to determine the circumstances of the incident and locate any suspects.”
Police urged anyone with information to contact officers in Hackney on 10, or to give details anonymously by calling charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.