Mind Your Pockets

London can be considered a very safe city, but like all large urban cities with mass transport and large crowds of people, pickpocketing does happen. Being aware that you are at risk of being pick-pocketed is the very first step to preventing it, so you’re already safer than you were a few seconds ago!

The majority of pickpocketing occurs at Tube Stations and at the popular London Markets. If you are heading to Camden Markets, or Portobello Road Markets on the weekend, consider leaving your passport and travellers cheques safely in your accommodation. You can only shop with cash at markets, so you can also leave your credit cards at home too. Limiting the amount of baggage you carry is also a good idea, if you’re a woman consider leaving your handbag at home or if you must have one, take one that’s small with a zip closure that you can tuck high under your arm. For men, the inside pocket of a closed jacket is still the safest place to keep your wallet, don’t be tempted to keep it in your back-pocket and if you must have it in your jeans pockets – keep a thumb hooked on the outside or your hand on it at all times to deter pickpockets. Don’t display your cash, nor excessive amounts of jewellery or expensive watches, pickpockets try and select those who they think will be carrying the largest amount of cash on their person.

When travelling on the Tube, keeping your bags close to you and a hand on your wallet is always a good idea – especially if your standing but pickpockets are also adept at pinching while sitting next to you. When sitting down, keep you bag on your lap and your hands on your bag, if you don’t have a bag keep your hand on your wallet even while sitting. The worst stations are Victoria, Leicester Square, Oxford Circus, King’s Cross and Piccadilly Circus and you’ll certainly use at least two of these during your stay so be extra vigilant. These are some of the largest and busiest stations on the network, and pickpockets strike not just on Tube trains but also in the stations themselves. According to the Transport Police the majority of pickpocketing occurs at Tube Stations between 5pm and 7pm, so keep an eye out for anyone trying to distract you or if someone appears to deliberately bump into you, these are the most common methods of pickpocketing after simple ‘dipping’ their hand into your bag or pocket.

Keeping your passport in your accommodation is always a good idea, if only to save hassle if you are pick pocketed – you are not required to carry your passport while in the UK so it is perfectly acceptable to leave your identity papers in your hotel or apartment safe. Dividing travellers cheques and credit cards between your wallet and your accommodation is also a good idea, as is limiting the amount of cash you have on your person. If you are pick-pocketed, these strategies will mean your passport is safe and you’ll still have access to your money and credit cards.

The chances of your being pick-pocketed are actually very slim, with the largest number of CCTV cameras in Europe, and a dedicated pickpocket police squad in action, there is a strong deterrence against pickpocketing. If you are a victim, report it immediately to the police. Police officers, especially transport police, are on duty at nearly every station, you can speak to them there and then if you are a victim of crime and they will be more than able to help you. The chances of recovering your property are slim, but it does happen, especially if you have very few credit cards and a small amount of cash often the bag is simply dumped after removing the cash.

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