Pickpocket takes £2,000 of goodies in four hours
A stage pickpocket managed to part ten victims from £2,000 worth of phones, purses and other valuables, in an experiment designed to show just how vulnerable we all are to street crime.
Lee Thompson, a stage pickpocket, was asked to carry out the stunt by Nationwide, to show people how easy it was to steal their belongings. He engaged people in conversation and used misdirection to take phones and purses - even those they thought were safely tucked away in their bags and pockets.
The video was made to draw attention to the 442,000 pickpocketing thefts a year in the UK - in which the criminals get hold of an average of £190 of valuables each time. Research from Nationwide found that almost a third of people lose items worth more than £200 to pickpockets, and around a fifth have items worth over £300 stolen.
Nationwide says it's essential to be on your guard, and aware of what is going on around you. This is particularly vital when you are out and about at Christmas, when it's busy and it's easy to be distracted.
Some 27% of thefts occur in busy places, and 20% on the high street, so beware of crowds. Another 9% take place in the pub, so it pays to take care when you are celebrating.
Dan King, Nationwide's Head of the FlexPlus Current Account, said: "Christmas and sales events like Black Friday are a perfect opportunity for criminals to fill their festive wishlist. At this time of year people tend to carry more cash on them, making it really easy and lucrative for pickpockets to operate. Mobile phone thefts make up a large percentage of all property stolen on the streets and it's not just the phone itself that is valuable, but also the personal data it contains."
The research found that 34% of things were stolen from trouser and coat pockets, 26% from a bag worn over the shoulder, 18% from a bag on the floor or a table. Thompson said: "The best way to keep yourself protected from pickpockets is to hide things away. If they can't see it, they won't take the risk. They want the easy target."
Keep items in inner, zipped pockets, and locked away in inner pockets of bags - worn across the body with the bag in front of you.
He added that people should be wary if they are approached by someone out of the blue, as they may be working with an accomplice to steal your belongings. One member of the group may distract you, possibly by asking for directions or deliberately pushing you or spilling something on you. While you are distracted another member of the gang will take your valuables.
The video shows just how easy it is to get distracted when you are out and about, so it pays to take extra care at this time of year.