A SENIOR Essex Police detective says the force will take ‘strong, visible action’ to tackle a series of robberies and thefts committed by people on motorcycles or motor scooters in Brentwood, Shenfield and Hutton.

Detectives believe the spate of incidents – including opportunist snatches of mobile phones in the street, theft of motor vehicles, criminal damage, making off without payment up to use of weapons to intimidate and threaten – may be linked to criminals operating out of London.

Police are asking the public to be alert and vigilant, particularly for motor scooters or motorcycles travelling in pairs with passengers seats.

DCI Jason Hendy said: "The net is closing on the people responsible for these crimes and we’ll be using all the tools in our box to bring these criminals to justice.

"We believe these incidents may be linked to criminal groups in London and my officers are working with Metropolitan Police colleagues to share intelligence. My message to those gangs is to stay out of Essex because we are coming after you. We will take strong, visible action and are building the evidence and intelligence we need to take down the people committing these crimes once and for all.”

"The people responsible for these incidents commit their crime and escape rapidly, so in addition to our police response I need the public in Shenfield, Brentwood and Hutton to help me catch them. If you see one of these incidents take place please call us with whatever information you have, particularly if you have dash-cam footage.”

The incidents include: • On Thursday March 2: A 15-year-old girl, from Brentwood, had her Samsung Galaxy taken from her as she walked in Queens Road, Brentwood, at around 4pm. A 17-year-old girl, from Hutton, had her phone snatched as she listened to music in Alexander Lane, Hutton, at 4.20pm. A woman had her phone snatched in Southernhay Close, Basildon at around 5pm. Two women had their phones taken from them in Hutton Road, Shenfield, at 5.40pm and at 6.20pm.

• On Monday, March 13 a 17-year-old, from Billericay, was using her phone when it was snatched in Hutton Road, Shenfield, at 3.30pm • On Wednesday, March 15 a 21-year-old woman, from Ingatestone, had her phone taken off her in Hutton Road, Shenfield, at around 3.40pm The suspects are described as wearing dark clothing and a black helmet with yellow scarves. The incidents have involved one or two riders on one mtorcycle, which had its number plate covered.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Brentwood CID or by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Police in Brentwood have also issued photos of the scooter stolen in a robbery in Ingrave Road, Brentwood at around 6.30pm on Thursday, March 16.

The victim, a man in his 20s, had been riding his blue and black 125cc Gilera Runner moped along Ongar Road towards Pilgrims Hatch when he noticed four people sat on two mopeds after passing the BP garage.

The men followed him, drawing alongside him and shouting at him.

Turing around in a side road to travel towards the High Street, he was forced to stop in heavy traffic at Wilson’s Corner at which point the other riders caught up with him.

They drew alongside him, pointed a firearm at him and told him to get off his moped. They then removed the keys from the ignition and the victim got off his vehicle.

One of the pillion passengers then got on the moped and they group made off towards Brentwood County High School.

The riders of the two mopeds are both described as white, while the passengers are both described as black. All four are described as wearing black clothing and balaclavas.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Essex Police on 101 quoting incident 857 of 16/03 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Officers are particularly keen to speak to anyone who may have footage from a dashboard camera.