Police have made several arrests after a TikTok trend urged crowds of young people to steal from stores on London’s famous Oxford Street.
Terrified shoppers were reportedly locked inside stores when staff members were forced to pull their shutters down after dozens of people grabbed items from display shelves.
Videos and pictures circulating online showed clashes between the looters and police officers wielding batons while tourists and shoppers ran away.
“Throughout Wednesday, officers maintained a high-visibility presence within the Oxford Street area,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
“Four people were arrested on suspicion of breaching the dispersal order, one person was arrested on suspicion of going equipped to steal, one person arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer and one person was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence,” the statement added.
“Earlier in the afternoon, officers arrested two people in Essex for conspiracy to commit robbery following online social media posts.”
A widely shared TikTok video that called on people to “rob” JD sports and other stores reportedly incited the chaos on Wednesday.
The video had instructed the criminals to follow a dress code and head to Oxford Street at a specific time.
“Don’t come if you can’t run,” the TikTok said, adding, “Don’t bring any weapons.”
Additional officers and security personnel were dispatched in the area as tensions brewed ahead of the robberies, the police said.
Oxford Street is Europe’s busiest shopping street, with around half a million daily visitors and approximately 300 shops.