Crackdown launched over potentially lethal craze involving Snapchat videos

Devon and Cornwall Police have launched a crackdown on moped thefts Credit: BPM Media

A warning has been issued over a potentially lethal social media trend which has already seen two teenagers suffer life-changing injuries.

Devon and Cornwall Police are warning of a large number of motorbikes and mopeds being stolen across Torquay, Paignton and Brixham.

They say a social media trend sees boys as young as 13 post videos of themselves driving along roads around Torquay on stolen mopeds to Snapchat.

In a successful crackdown this week, detectives recovered five stolen mopeds and made a number of arrests after tracking social media and identifying alleged offenders.

It comes after two teenagers were left fighting for their life after a crash. One of them had not been wearing a helmet.

Sgt Kevin Davies, who leads the neighbourhood policing team in Torbay, said a "considerable" number of mopeds have been stolen.

"It involves quite a number of individuals across Torquay, Paignton and Brixham," he added.

"It's a safety issue as well as an anti-social behaviour issue.

"The kids have various social media accounts with different handles and they have been posting Snapchat videos of themselves driving along roads around Torquay on stolen mopeds.

"Their faces are not shown but we are able to identify them. Some area under the age of 16. Obviously it's an issue with children as young as 13 who have no licence and no insurance.

"Generally speaking it's a safety issue - some don't wear helmets and they take pillion passengers. We have had one particularly nasty accident where one rider didn't have a helmet, which has made this a priority."

Two teenagers were injured in the crash on Westhill Road, in Torquay Credit: BPM Media

The serious crash happened on Westhill Road, at the junction with Chatto Road in Torquay at around 11.55pm on Friday 23 May.

Police say a blue Lexmoto 125cc bike, which had been stolen, crashed into a grey Mercedes C220 AMG car.

A force spokesperson said: "As a result of the collision, the rider and pillion passenger of the Lexmoto motorbike, both teenaged boys from Torquay, suffered life threatening and life-changing injuries.

"One casualty was taken to Torbay Hospital and the other to Bristol Royal Infirmary. The driver of the Mercedes was uninjured."

A Snap spokesperson said: "Using Snapchat for criminal activity is against our rules.

"If we become aware of people using Snapchat to promote illegal behaviour we remove the content and take appropriate action.

"We encourage anyone who sees illegal activity to report it using our in-app tools so we can investigate.”