Homebound commuters most at risk from Tube pickpockets
THEFTS on the Tube are up by 35% in just two years and you are most at risk on the commute home from work.
British Transport Police figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show there were 5,153 thefts between August 1 last year and July 31.
This is up from 3,812 reported incidents for 2015-2016.
Two lines on the Tube stand out as hotspots for pickpockets, with both making up 34% of all thefts over the past year – and they are two key west London lines.
The Central and Piccadilly lines are the worst for thefts by some distance.
There were 879 thefts reported on the Central line and 864 on the Piccadilly. The next highest was the Victoria line, where 726 thefts were reported.
The Waterloo and City line, which has just two stops, was the safest train with just five thefts reported.
The Circle line was the next safest with 97 thefts.
The figures, obtained from the British Transport Police by home insurer Policy Expert, show Saturdays are the worst for thefts, with more than 900 reported.
Across any day, thieves are most likely to strike between 6pm and 7pm as people come home from work.
Overall, the night Tube proves the safest time to travel, with only 8% (435) of the reported incidents occurring between midnight and 5am. That is less than both rush-hour slots, 5pm6pm and 6pm-7pm, on their own (498 and 625 incidents respectively).
March was the month with the highest number of thefts, with 525 incidents recorded. This was narrowly followed by December, which totalled 506 reported thefts.
The figures reveal the most targeted age group were those aged between 25 and 34, who reported 30% (1,527) of the thefts. This is more than 400 more incidents than the next closest age group, 18-25-year-olds, which accounted for 20% of victims (1,044).
This means around half the victims were between 18 and 34.
The study also found that women were 1.4 times more likely to be a target than men. In total, 56% (2,877 incidents) were women compared to 41% (2,092 thefts) reported by men.
Policy Expert offers some protection advice:
■ The most stolen items are often mobile phones. While it’s tempting to check your phone when on the move, ensure you’re being sensible with where you make calls and texts. Keep it out of sight in a zipped bag or pocket; ■ Never idly put down any small valuable item, such as a phone or purse. Valuables left on seats will be both easy and tempting to snatch;
■ Keep your bag where you can see it, ideally in front of you or diagonally across your chest;
■ Conceal your wallet in a buttoned or zipped pocket where it does not bulge; ■ If you are using a cash, ticket or Oyster machine, be wary of who is around you and make sure your pin is covered; ■ Thieves often work in groups, so try not to be distracted by commotion or attention which could be a ploy;
■ Finally, check whether your home insurance policy includes away from home cover so if the worst does happen, you at least know you are covered financially.
Adam Powell, operations director at Policy Expert, said: “Thieves usually use distraction tactics where they try and divert a person’s attention so items can be stolen – usually a phone, watch, wallet, tablet, or a gadget of some description, but sometimes an entire handbag.
“The Tube can be a busy place, so it’s important to ensure you’re not a target for opportunistic thieves when swept up in the crowds.
“Keep an eye on your bags and any other valuables, and be vigilant around other passengers.
“It’s also worth checking whether your home insurance policy includes away from home cover.
“That way if you do fall victim to theft you can potentially be reimbursed for the items stolen.”