Public transport is a fantastic opportunity for pickpockets and thieves. It can also be an opportunity for someone looking to commit a serious crime against you or your loved ones.
The biggest change in recent years is the increase in CCTV on public transport. That has helped you the innocent traveller considerably. However don’t assume that CCTV means safety.
The London underground is an incredible network and one of the most complex in any city in the world. If you wander around the network you will see CCTV everywhere and that coupled with the surveillance you can’t see does provide significant assistance to the police who patrol.
However don’t assume that the pickpockets, thieves and violent drunk don’t also know about the CCTV. It’s not a secret, deliberately so in order to deter.
As with all instances the tip is to keep valuables safe and not on show so if you are holding the overhead rail and showing the 50 people in your carriage your gold Rolex you probably haven’t understood the book so far. I know that sounds a bit farfetched but I have seen it with my own eyes on a packed underground train. They may just as well have hung a sign around their neck saying
I’m rich and a bit careless with my belongings so help yourself.
Massed crowds crushing together in close proximity are a pickpocket’s view of heaven. If you really think you will notice your wallet and passport disappearing and being passed from one of the pickpocket team to another you are really misguided.
If we think about our security. Spatial awareness and a recognition of the people and layout of structures around us are vital.
Where you stand or sit on a less busy journey is an essential element of your security. If you sit with your back to the rest of the carriage how will you know if you are at risk if you can’t see who is behind you.
If you sit with your back to the wall near an exit or door but not with the door straight in front of it.
If you are near an exit you can make a decision on whether to stay on the train or get off. You get a chance to evaluate risks and make a decision although not perfect it is better than other options.
If you sit or stand directly in front of the exit then anyone standing there or getting on doesn’t give you the necessary time to recognise and evaluate the risks. So for example just as the automatic doors close they grab your bag and jump off.
Much more seriously they grab you and jump off, you are now outside the train with your aggressor