A manhunt has been launched for an ax-wielding moped gang who have stolen £300,000 of handbags in a wave of “smash-and-grab” raids at designer stores in the West End.

So far the “brazen” thieves have struck at Fendi, Miu Miu, Hugo Boss, Browns, House of Fraser and Prada in the past month.

They have been armed with axes, knives, and crowbars.

 In a raid at Prada in Old Bond Street, a security guard was beaten over the head with a hard object just seconds after the gang had driven their scooter through the display window.
The axe-wielding gang have stolen handbags worth £300,000

The security guard, aged in his 60s, was taken to the hospital is now recovering at home but designer handbags worth over £100,000 were stolen in the two-minute raid on September 21.

Images of those involved in the attack have been released by police today after the five suspects fled the scene on scooters and mopeds.

 Scotland Yard has linked the attack to five other similar West End raids because of the tactics used, dark clothing and black mopeds used by the gang.
Police are hunting five suspects after a string of raids on designer handbag shops

A Fendi store was smashed up and £200,000 of handbags and purse stolen when the gang struck on September 5.

Hugo Boss in New Bond Street was broken into but the eight suspects fled on four mopeds after the alarm sounded.

Up to four suspects on two bikes forced their way into Browns in South Molton Street group through a back door in the early hours of September 27 getting away with over £10,000 of goods.

On October 2, the gang on three mopeds took to the window of Mulberry on New Bond Street with a claw hammer. But they left empty-handed after failing to gain entry.

DC Paul Clarke, from Westminster CID who is leading the police investigation, said: “These smashes and grab attacks last only a few minutes but are committed by individuals who are carrying weapons including axes, knives, and crowbars.

“The gang routinely use motorcycle helmets and dark clothing to conceal their identity.

“As well as the criminality of the burglaries, our concern is also that they have not hesitated to use violence to ensure their raids remain undisturbed.”

Chief Superintendent Peter Ayling, borough commander for Westminster said they were stepping up undercover patrols in the area.

He added: “Through our excellent working relationships with businesses and stores in the area we are working hard to prevent further offenses. These brazen criminals will find their luck runs out soon and they will be brought to justice.”

No arrests have been made. Enquiries are ongoing.

It comes amid a surge moped enabled crime in London. More than 8,300 crimes were carried out by thugs using a motorcycle in the capital last year, compared to a drastically lower overall total of 317 in 2011.