Police have credited a major operation to tackle street robbery for a 20 per cent reduction in the crime.

Operation Zeus was launched in February last year to tackle a spike in robberies in Croydon, especially of mobile phones and cash from schoolchildren.

A specialised police unit made up of 12 officers and three sergeants was formed with the sole aim of targeting robbers, with additional support coming from Croydon’s Crime squad.

Officers have been primarily working undercover, using stop and search tactics and disrupting robber’s patterns of behaviour.

In the 12 months since the launch of Operation Zeus, there have been 1643 personal robberies in Croydon, compared to 2043 in the same period the previous year.

The 20 per cent reduction in the offences has been matched by the number of robberies solved rising from 11.8 per cent to 16.9 per cent.

Police have also been engaging with young people to educate them on how best to avoid being targeted by thieves, having run two 'back to school' operations to encourage young people to register their gadgets and phones on the Immobilise website.

Detective Inspector Brian Hobbs, who leads Croydon's Robbery Squad said: "When we launched Operation Zeus last year, our aim was to try and reduce robbery by 10 percent and to increase our detection rate to 15%. Initially, we ran the operation for a three-month period and during that time we'd achieved both our aims.

"However, because the tactics were so successful it didn’t make sense to stop what we were doing and Operation Zeus has continued ever-since.

"The challenge for us was to try and sustain the early progress we had made over the whole year, but the results we can see now show that our approach is having a really positive effect and ultimately there have been some 400 fewer victims of robbery in Croydon."