With London becoming one of the most popular tourism destinations in the world, thieves have made a living off robbing London’s tourists of their valuables while they wander through the city streets. Although the chances of you becoming a victim of pickpocketing in London can be incredibly rare, you can never be too safe or prepared.
Whether you’re walking around London’s major tourist attractions or even down a small side street, you must always keep your wits about you…and take certain steps and precautions in order to avoid getting your valuables stolen during your visit. Here are some tips to keep in mind during your trip to London:
Don’t look like a tourist
Sometimes not looking like a tourist may be tough if you’re with a tour group or lingering around a major tourist attraction in London, but this point can’t be stressed enough. One way to draw attention from thieves is to look like a tourist who has enough money to spend in one of the most expensive cities, so keep that in mind before you go out and venture into the streets. (Remember: nothing screams tourist like a person walking around in sneakers and a fanny pack ad snapping pictures every two seconds.)
Don’t ask for directions from someone in the street
Instead of asking random people for directions when you’re wandering around the streets of London, try dipping into a shop or corner store and asking an employee for help instead. If you can’t find any shop nearby, then look for someone carrying a small parcel, as chances are they’re probably a shopmen or a porter.
Photo credit: Kat N.L.M.
Be on high alert when a train/bus is about to stop
The peak time for any type of thievery is in the seconds before people get off a train or bus, as it’s easy for a thief to quickly grab something and rush out the door before you have time to process what just happened. So hold on to your valuables tight and look alert, even if you’re not going to get off at the next stop.
Don’t ever travel when you’re sleepy, hungover or drunk
This may be easier said than done, but thieves are constantly on the lookout for easy targets, and that easy target could be you after a night of heavy drinking (or a morning after a night of heavy drinking).
Don’t wear fancy jewellery or accessories
Sure London is a fashionable city and the locals like to dress up to the nines, but that doesn’t mean you have to wear that expensive bracelet or watch on your wrists while you’re touring around the city. As a matter of fact, try to look as poor as possible if you plan on walking around the major tourist attractions, or even outside the city, because thieves will almost certainly be checking out your belongings to see how much they’re worth.
Don’t use your phone in public
Do you plan on using that fancy new iPhone for taking photos, listening to music and calling people while you’re travelling? Well think again, because waving around that flashy new phone is a sure sign that a thief will target you and possibly even follow you around. Phones have become a high commodity in the pickpocketing world, so always be wary whenever you pull it out of your purse or pocket.
For women: Don’t carry around handbags
Handbags are easy to snatch, so try to stick with purses that loop around your shoulder rather than your hand. Also, don’t leave your bag hanging off a chair in a restaurant. Instead, try to keep it on your lap or loop it around your chair or foot at all times.
Try to avoid keeping all of your important belongings in one place
If you’re going to allow a thief an opportunity to swipe something off you, make sure he or she doesn’t have access to every single important belonging that you have on you. That means putting your phone in your pocket, your wallet in another zipper, and perhaps even your cash out of your wallet and somewhere else safe.