Merton Raids Carried Out In Hunt For Looters

Police carry out co-ordinated operation

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Disorder in Colliers Wood

CCTV images from Colliers Wood unrest

Arrests made after unrest

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Police hunting the looters involved in last month's unrest in Colliers Wood have carried out raids on three Merton homes.

They used "rapid entry techniques" to raid two properties in Mitcham and another in Wimbledon in a co-ordinated operation, as part of Operation Withern.

The raids involved plain clothes teams of detectives, crime squad and Special Constabulary officers, who had been briefed at a South London police station.

They are pictured right executing the search warrants and searching for evidence.

One arrest was made at an address in Wimbledon. Unemployed Alain Nsarhaza, aged 30, of The Broadway, was later charged and kept in custody to appear at Wimbledon Magistrates Court on September 6, charged with attempted burglary at PC World, Priory Retail Park, Colliers Wood, at 1am on August 8.

Acting Detective Inspector Teresa Foster said: "The disorder that happened on 8th August 2011 has had a significant impact on both the police and the community. The Tandem Centre and Priory Retail Centre were targeted as well as police officers, vehicles and innocent members of the public. 

"Since that Monday night, both uniformed and detective police officers have been working around the clock to bring those responsible to justice.

"Merton Police have set up a dedicated investigation team to analyse hundreds of hours of CCTV and liaise with all the businesses that have suffered damage. So far over 40 people have been arrested for offences ranging from Handling Stolen Goods, Burglary and Violent Disorder.

"Warrants are being executed by Op Withern Investigation Team on a daily basis. We will continue until we locate all those responsible for the unprecedented widespread looting and extreme violence that occurred in our community that night."

Merton Police have so far recovered substantial amounts of stolen property, including sports clothing and footwear from JD Sports and other shops, electrical goods and many other items found during warrant searches, such as cannabis and other illegal substances.

They ask anyone with information about the crimes or offenders, please contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

And if anyone who committed crimes that night wants to give themselves up, contact Merton Burglary and Robbery Investigation Team by calling 101 to make an appointment. Police say that surrendering to them and returning stolen property are two very positive actions showing remorse and responsibility.

  • Speaking at the plenary session of the London Assembly on Wednesday (September 7), Merton and Wandsworth's London Assembly member, Richard Tracey, suggested using "smart water" to mark rioters making them easily identifiable to the police

    He said: "Perhaps you ought to be seriously considering using water cannon and smart water when combating rioters."

    Responding, the Metropolitan Police Acting Commissioner, Tim Godwin, said he was interested in the idea of using "smart water" which contains a type of dye and would enable to police to identify those sprayed with it as having been at the scene of the riot. However he said there are issues to consider in relation to its use.

    Commenting afterwards, Mr Tracey said: "I am heartened that the Acting Commissioner is interested in the idea of using smart water. I believe one of the biggest incentives for the rioting and looting we saw last month was people's mistaken belief that they would quite literally get away with it. Knowing you’re going to be doused in an indelible dye that identifies you as a rioter or looter is I believe a significant deterrent."

September 7, 2011