• Give a Gift
  • Customer Service
  • Promotions
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Win
  • Games

November 4, 2011

Girls Gone Wild: London's Female Looters

Who were the young women who joined the chaotic riots in London, looting stores and igniting cars? You'd be surprised.

Share
Special Offer

In August, shocking images of the U.K. riots flashed around the world: a woman leaping from a burning building, a hooded mob looting H&M, a police car in flames. The riots, sparked by the police shooting of a London man during an arrest, raged for six days, spreading across London and into other cities around the country. The result: an estimated $160 million in destroyed property and lost business. Five people died, and 111 police officers were injured. But the real shocker? A large percentage of the looters were women.

Of the nearly 3,000 arrests made during the chaos, an estimated 10 percent were women — from two very different worlds. Some of the ladies were the last people you would expect to see looting stores for sneakers or snacks. The most prominent was Laura Johnson, the 19-year-old daughter of a millionaire and a student at the posh Exeter University. She was alleged to have been in a car that contained around $8,000 worth of looted electronics. She pleaded not guilty and was granted bail on the condition that she wear an electronic GPS tag on her ankle, ensuring that she sticks to a nightly curfew. In a similar story, Adrienne Ives watched the TV news in horror as she recognized her 18-year-old daughter, Chelsea, in the thick of the riots. The teenager, a celebrated track-and-field athlete, had been chosen to serve as an Olympic ambassador, to greet visitors as they arrive at the 2012 London games. She was charged with violent disorder, including throwing bricks at a police car. She was stripped of her ambassador role and could face jail time.

In the other camp were women who were neither academic highfliers nor pillars of the community. Take, for instance, 22-year-old Shereka Leigh, an unemployed mother of one, caught trying on sneakers amid the looting in popular retailer JD Sports. Recently evicted from her apartment, she fit the widely held belief that the looters were alienated young people from deprived inner-city neighborhoods. Ninety percent of the looters were neither working nor attending school, The Guardian reported. Many were reportedly in gangs.

A young woman named Charmain Humphreys, a youth worker at an East London charity called Immediate Theatre, explains that often, women get coerced into looting by their gangster boyfriends. "One girl was given no choice by her boyfriend. He said: 'You're my girlfriend — you have to go looting with me,'"says Humphreys. Young women regularly assist their gangland boyfriends in an array of robberies, she adds. For instance, a young woman will be enlisted to befriend a drug dealer who is "floss- ing," or showing off his money. The young woman will chat him up, find out where he lives, and then report that address back to the boyfriend, who then robs the dealer with his fellow gang members.

There are now an estimated 170 gangs operating in London, where police are famously unarmed. In 2009, to meet a rise in gun crime, London's specialist armed police unit, CO19, took the unprecedented step of carrying out foot patrols with submachine guns in crime hot spots like Tottenham, where the recent riots began. Perhaps as alarming as the rise in gun crime is the rise in girl crime.


Share
This Is A Developing Story
Connect with Marie Claire:
Advertisement
horoscopes
daily giveaway
Win a year’s supply of makeup products from Tarte and a year’s supply of hair products from Hamadi Organics!

Win a year’s supply of makeup products from Tarte and a year’s supply of hair products from Hamadi Organics!

enter now
You Know You Want More
More From World News on Women
The 6 Toughest Single Women in Film (PHOTOS)

Don't mess with these strong female leads.

Into Africa

Driven by equal parts passion and ambition, young Americans are taking a career path less traveled to Rwanda, turning life experience into a world of good, almost 20 years after the genocide.

My Mom And I Share The Same Husband

A mother and daughter having sex with the same man may sound hard to believe, but it's a necessity for women in one Bangladeshi tribe. Not that they're thrilled about it.

post a comment

Special Offer
Link Your Marie Claire Account to Facebook
Welcome!

Marie Claire already has an account with this email address. Link your account to use Facebook to sign in to Marie Claire. To insure we protect your account, please fill in your password below.

Forgot Password?

Thanks for Joining

Your information has been saved and an account has been created for you giving you full access to everything marieclaire.com and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your username and/or password or complete your profile, click here.

Continue
Your accounts are now linked

You now have full access to everything Marie Claire and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your settings or profile, click here.

Continue