Pickpocketing in Central London

By Natalie Hartley

Close-up of A person stealing purse from handbag – © Adobe Images

Pickpocketing is the act of stealing from another person’s pockets. Those who pickpocket have almost perfected the art of it, being able to steal mobiles from zipped pockets without notice. They also know to cause a distraction by making a ruckus or bumping into someone.

According to the BBC in 2021, theft on the London Underground increased by 80% in the three years prior. The two lines which have the highest recorded theft are the Piccadilly and the Central line. The two lines with reportedly the least amount of theft are the Bakerloo and the Metropolitan lines. The British Transport Police has said that they were working harder to tackle theft. An undercover officer, called ‘Steve’, said, ‘We’re arresting a lot more people. In fourteen years of [working on] pickpocketing, I’ve never known it to be this busy.’

On the 28th of January 2023, I was pickpocketed in China Town after birthday celebrations. My phone was stolen from my front zipped coat pocket. I was pushed by one ‘gang member’ to distract me and pickpocketed by another. Somehow, I did not feel them unzip my coat, which shows how crafty many pickpockets have become. 

When locating the phone later on, it was completely switched off but was at a phone repair shop. A few days later, it was transported to the UAE, into another phone repair shop. On the 7th of May, it was transported for a final time to Guangdong, China in a person’s home address. This shows that most people may never realise the scale of similar pickpocketing incidents.

The MET police suggest to ‘keep purses and bags closed and secure at all times’, and to ‘have a purse or bag that’s difficult to open.’ They also said that these measures may not always prevent pickpockets as they are becoming more sneaky by year.

Posted in News.