Pickpocketing and theft

We direct a lot of our resources towards combating pickpocketing and theft, including deploying specialist covert officers and raising awareness with crime prevention campaigns.

Be Aware - a guide to thieves' tactics

We are pro-actively looking to reduce the number of pickpocketing and theft incidents through promotional campaigns, education and policing initiatives to target offenders.

Our analysis suggests that the most common type of theft is pickpocketing, followed by theft through victims leaving items unattended or unwatched. Mobile phone theft makes up 24% of all property stolen, with luggage theft making up 10%. Help keep your valuables safe by following our advice on looking after your property.

How we combat pickpocketing

  • High visibility policing in vulnerable areas
  • Deploying specialist covert pickpocket officers widely, so their skills can benefit as many passengers as possible
  • We launched Operation Magnum as a long-term initiative that aims to disrupt and deter thieves who target unsuspecting commuters and tourists, while also educating members of the public about how they can best look after their property on trains and at stations.
  • You may have seen our posters around rail and Underground stations.
  • We work closely with station operators to collect intelligence and deter pickpockets
  • Targeting known repeat offenders
  • Enforcing bail conditions to keep pickpockets away from the rail network
  • Using CCTV to deter and catch pickpockets


    Thieves use a variety of tactics and distractions to relieve you of your personal items - learn more about them so you don't become a victim of crime.

    Protect yourself from thieves intent on stealing your phone, tablet or other gadgets by learning their tactics. You can watch some examples in the video below.

  • Pickpockets’ top tactics

    Familiarise yourself with pickpockets' tactics and avoid becoming a victim.

  • Single “dip” into a bag, operating under cover of a jacket, newspaper or bag
  • A group surround and jostle the target
  • Distraction – spill a drink, apologise and then steal the target's property
  • Bag slasher – teams of two to four surround the target and cut the strap of the bag or slit the bag itself.

How to beat pickpockets

See our advice pages for our tips on how best to look after yourself and your property or watch our campaign videos.