London Underground pickpockets campaign 2023: insights and analysis

Nick Titchener headshot

Nick Titchener

Managing Partner

In Brief

In London, the tube is a natural target for pickpockets and the issue is becoming worse. Here we explore where most pickpocket thefts occur, breaking British Transport Police data down by tube line and borough.

Theft is a serious crime and can have long-lasting repercussions – for both victims and those accused of the offence.

We examine what can be done to prevent pickpocketing and what you should do if you’ve fallen victim to it.

If you’ve been accused of the offence, the very first thing you should do is contact specialist theft defence solicitors.


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Commuters are being warned after new data shows the number of reported pickpocket thefts on the London underground has more than doubled in the past year.

New British Transport Police data has revealed that the number of pickpocket thefts on the London Underground has more than doubled since 2021, reaching a record high of 7,899 thefts in 2022. 

Last year, there were over 1,200 pickpocket thefts reported on the Central line, making it London’s worst-hit tube line. The Northern line ranked second, with more than 1,100 thefts.

According to Transport for London* levels of train-related theft are higher than pre-pandemic rates. Some 50% of robberies are committed on trains, with 23% on platforms and 7% at station entrances and exits. Fridays are the most common day for offences to occur and thefts are least likely on Thursdays. 

The data, collated by London criminal defence solicitors Lawtons, also revealed which London boroughs suffered the most pickpocket incidents in the past year:

  • Westminster- 20,871
  • Camden- 5,301
  • Southwark- 4,287
  • Kensington & Chelsea- 2,962
  • Islington- 2,820
  • Harrington- 3,160
  • Lambeth- 2,591
  • Haringey- 1,894

Westminster is, by far, the London borough targeted most often by pickpockets. Westminster had over 20,000 reported incidents in the past year, more than triple the number in second-placed Camden (5,300) and third-placed Southwark (4,200). 

Westminster’s figures have shot up dramatically in the past two years, with levels nearly twice what they were in January 2021. At the height of the pandemic, the crime was almost non-existent in the borough, with only 100 pickpocketing incidents reported in Westminster in February 2021.

Nick Titchener, criminal defence solicitor at London law firm Lawtons Solicitors, says: 

“Pickpocketing covers theft of items directly from the victim, but without the use of physical force and so easily accessible items like mobile phones and wallets tend to be the most targeted. It’s important to ensure you’re not a target for opportunistic thieves when swept up in the crowds. As summer approaches, London will see an influx of tourists, making it easier for pickpockets to target people. Keep an eye on your bags and any other valuables and be vigilant around other passengers.”

“It’s important that victims and witnesses contact the police as soon as the robbery occurs – the first hour after the incident takes place can be critical to catching the suspect. Reporting the incident and cancelling your cards can help your cause in these circumstances”

To avoid being a victim of pickpocket theft, Metropolitan Police advise you to:

  • Keep purses and bags closed and secure at all times
  • Carry bags in front of you or diagonally across your chest
  • Return cards to your purse or wallet quickly and zip it up or button it before concealing it
  • Use a purse that’s difficult to open. One that zips or snaps shut is best
  • Use a money belt if you’re carrying a significant quantity of cash
  • Keep a list, separate from your wallet and phone, of contact numbers, in case your phone is stolen
  • Keep a photocopy of your airline tickets, passport, credit cards and any other documents that would be impossible or inconvenient to replace if stolen

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