DestinationsVisitors warned to be vigilant as number of pickpocket thefts go through the roof on the tube.

Pickpocket crimes on the rise in London Underground

New data from the British Transport Police shows that pickpockets throughout the Underground reached a record high of 7,899 in 2022.
New data from the British Transport Police shows that pickpockets throughout the Underground reached a record high of 7,899 in 2022. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Jacob Lund

The number of pickpocket thefts on the London Underground has more than doubled since 2021 with the city’s Central line being the worst hit of the entire system.

New data from the British Transport Police shows that pickpockets throughout the Underground reached a record high of 7,899 in 2022. And on the Central line alone, there were more than 1,200 such incidents last year. The Northern line ranked second, with more than 1,100 thefts, according to British Transport Police.

These figures, which come as London ramps up tourism campaigns, are higher than pre-pandemic levels of train-related theft. Some 50% of these incidents are committed on trains, while about 23% take place on train station platforms and 7% at station entrances and exits.

It’s also worth noting that Fridays are the most common day for offences to occur and oddly enough, thefts are least likely on Thursdays.

Worst hit boroughs throughout the underground system

The data, collated by London criminal defence solicitors Lawtons, also revealed which London boroughs experienced the most pickpocket incidents over the past year:

  • Westminster - 20,871
  • Camden - 5,301
  • Southwark - 4,287
  • Kensington & Chelsea - 2,962
  • Islington - 2,820
  • Hackney - 3,160
  • Lambeth - 2,591
  • Haringey - 1,894

It seems that Westminster is the favourite spot of pickpockets by far, according to the new report. It experienced more than 20,000 incidents over the past year. That amounts to two thefts every hour. It’s also more than triple the second-place community of Camden, which experienced 5,300 thefts. The third-placed Southward experienced 4,200.

“Westminster’s figures have shot up dramatically in the past two years, with levels nearly twice what they were in January 2021,” says the report. “At the height of the pandemic, the crime was almost non-existent in the borough, with only 100 pickpocketing incidents reported in Westminster in February 2021.”

In light of the worsening pickpocketing issues, officials in London urge individuals to ensure that they are not a target for opportunistic thieves when swept up in the crowds.

“Pickpocketing covers theft of items directly from the victim, but without the use of physical force and so easily accessible items like mobile phones and wallets tend to be the most targeted,” Nick Titchener, criminal defence solicitor at London law firm Lawtons Solicitors, said in a statement. “Keep an eye on your bags and any other valuables and be vigilant around other passengers.”

It’s also important that victims and witnesses contact the police as soon as the robbery occurs. The first hour after the incident takes place can be critical to catching the suspect, Titchener explained.

“Reporting the incident and cancelling your cards can help your cause in these circumstances” Titchener added.

Tips to avoid pickpocket theft

Planning to visit London as a tourist in the future? Here are some additional tips from the Metropolitan Police to help avoid being a victim of pickpocket theft.

  • Carry bags in front of you or diagonally across your chest
  • Return cards to your purse or wallet quickly and zip it up or button it before concealing it
  • Use a purse that’s difficult to open. One that zips or snaps shut is best
  • Use a money belt if you’re carrying a significant quantity of cash
  • Keep a list, separate from your wallet and phone, of contact numbers, in case your phone is stolen
  • Keep a photocopy of your airline tickets, passport, credit cards and any other documents that would be impossible or inconvenient to replace if stolen

Source: TravelPulse

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