They were the "riot commuters", people who came from far and wide to take part in - or just watch - the disturbances across England. But did they really exist? How far did people actually travel?
Now we have the first answer: 2.2miles
According to analysis by the UK's top transport data mapping company, ITO world - based on the Guardian's database of riot-related court records - the average distance from home to where defendants were accused of a riot offence was just over two miles, or a half hour walk.
If the most likely road route was taken into account, that distance rose to 2.6 miles.
That varies between cities - in Manchester, the average from home to offence location was 2.8 miles. In Birmingham, the average was 2.9 miles and in Nottingham, 2.6.
In London, people were closer to home: 1.5 miles in Peckham and 2.2 miles in Brixton. But those accused of riot-related offences in suburban Ealing and Croydon were 2.7 miles and 2.3 miles.
One 20 year-old student interviewed as part of the Reading the Riots project cut short his holiday abroad to fly back and take part in the Croydon, Lewisham and Brixton riots. It cost him £200 to change his flight. He lives in south London. "Even though it was a waste of money, it was so worth it. If I could go back in time I wouldn't change it. Absolutely worth it."
An analysis of one day's court hearings by the BBC earlier this year found 70% of those accused of riot-related crimes had travelled from outside their area. Communities secretary Eric Pickles called it "riot tourism", and it may cause the withdrawal of benefits and council housing from those accused of rioting, even in a different borough. Housing minister Grant Shapps said at the time: "If someone has travelled for those riots, then the fact you have committed it in the next-door borough or somewhere else should count equally".
Wandsworth council was the first to have served an eviction notice to someone accused of rioting in Clapham, which is in the neighbouring borough of Lambeth. Southwark Council has written to 35 tenants where they or a member of their household had been charged over the disorder across London threatening possible eviction.
Of those who travelled more than four miles, a third of them were based in Manchester - the three defendants in the Guardian sample whose alleged offence was furthest from home (8 miles) came from the city's suburbs. And Guardian data mapping showed that while the riots themselves were in the city centre, the vast majority of people accused of involvement lived in the outer districts.
One 22 year-old in Salford spoke of how he and ten of his friends were involved in the riots in the city for several hours before going to the disturbances in Manchester. He says: "...I went to Manchester as well like, just to have a look, to see what was going on there. It was a totally different atmosphere. In Salford it had it's own character, it was more like a party atmosphere..." The group stayed in Manchester for an hour before returning to the riot in Salford. "[in] Manchester...thought, 'this is madness, go back to Salford', went back to Salford."
The data came from 1,100 individual's magistrates' courts records collected by the Guardian. For around 600 of them, postcodes for both home and offence location were available. The ITO World analysis is based on a smaller sample of 400 where both postcodes were detailed enough to allow exact mapping.
There are some hefty caveats: we don't know for sure that those accused of rioting took these routes, or that they left from home. This is, in effect, a model for what might have happened.
There is anecdotal evidence to back it up, however.
In London, one 18 year-old interviewee from Lewisham described how he and his friends drove around in a van to several riot sites, including Croydon and Catford and Clapham to take looted goods from rioters. "I went to Lewisham first...I was trying to get stuff from people who got stuff...what we did was, we'd chill with them, be like 'yeah...we've got this van...they'd put their stuff in teh van and we're just like 'bye'...And then we'll go off and then we heard that something's going on ...Clapham, so we go down Clapham."
One 24 year-old man described his car journey from Chingford to the riot in Tottenham: "We [saw] cars and there were groups of boys. Only group of boys in vans. And they were speeding down the motorway tryna get to that direction … everyone was communicating. Everyone was putting their hazards on. It was all a laugh. It was like a, just a fun day out. There was no law. Nothing to control us...So we got there. They blocked off the exit towards the Tottenham junction and we saw about 12 police vans parading down the motorway at that same time. Everyone was speeding past them. Everyone was swearing at them. People were flashing their hazards, putting on their beams. The police just carried on driving. They didn't stop for no-one."