Crackdown on rail passenger theft

British Transport police logo
British Transport Police logo Photo: BTP

Today marks the public launch of Operation Magnum, a British Transport Police campaign to help rail passengers keep valuables safe from pickpockets, gadget-grabbers and luggage thieves.

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***As part of the initiative, officers have issued video clips to help the travelling public spot 13 of the most common tricks thieves use.](http://immobilise.com/)](http://immobilise.com/)](http://immobilise.com/)*[[[

The nationwide operation was launched in June, after a pilot on the London Underground earlier this year, and looks to tackle the 16% rise in theft at stations and on trains across Britain last year, as revealed by the launch of BTP’s annual crime statistics earlier this week.

Op Magnum will see BTP officers work with train operating companies and local police forces to disrupt and deter thieves who prey on unsuspecting commuters and tourists at busy stations, thieves who brazenly snatch expensive smartphones from distracted passengers’ hands and those who steal luggage and valuables on trains.

Videos featured on the Op Magnum website (www.btp.police.uk/theft) and BTP’s YouTube channel show passengers the 13 of the most common tricks thieves use, while anti-theft surgeries, which are being held at stations across the region, will see passengers handed crime prevention leaflets with advice on how to protect themselves from thieves.

Officers and civilian staff will also be on hand to help people register their electrical gadgets to immobilise.com, a website that helps police reunite people with their lost or stolen items.

Although the operation is in its early stages, indications are that it is having an impact, with the total number of thefts across England, Scotland and Wales between June and August this year down 9.5% compared to the same period last year.

Thefts on the rail network are very rarely opportunistic; they are committed by determined thieves whose sole intention is to steal from other passengers.

“While crime on the rail network is down for the ninth successive year, theft of passenger property has been a real challenge for us this year, particularly with the rise in thefts of smartphones and other high-tech devices.

“The increase includes organised pickpocketing and snatch and luggage thefts, which is why we’re running Operation Magnum across the country. The overall 9.5% reduction in thefts compared to this time last year is positive, but we know there is still much more to do.

“We’ll use a range of tactics to create a really difficult environment for criminals to operate within, including intelligence-led patrols by uniformed officers and plain-clothes theft squad detectives. Thieves operating on the rail network should know that they will be caught and dealt with, no matter where they are operating across Britain.

“However, Op Magnum is also about education; we want the public to watch our videos and know how to best look after their property on crowded trains.

“Top tips include keeping your luggage close by and checking on it regularly, keeping your valuables hidden if you’re going to sleep and always zipping up any hand or shoulder bags.

“Unsurprisingly, mobile phones are a popular target for thieves, so try to keep yours hidden. Installing a tracker application on your smartphone could help trace your device if it’s stolen.”

– Chief Supt Terry Nicholson, British Transport Police

Train companies take the safety and security of their passengers extremely seriously, investing heavily in funding BTP, dedicated security staff and CCTV, and around a thousand stations are now accredited under the government’s Secure Stations Scheme.

"The rise in thefts on trains and at stations is therefore something we are keen to crack down on by working closely with the police and raising passengers’ awareness of how to keep their property safe while travelling.”

– Andy Odell, Policing & Security Liaison Officer for the Assoc of Train Operating Companies
  • If you think your property has been stolen:
  • Stay calm and don't panic. Report it to a member of transport staff or a police officer straight away
  • Report a theft on the railway or London Underground to British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40
  • In an emergency, always dial 999******
  • ***************Tips for keeping your property safe on trains:*
  • Keep purses secure and carry wallets in an inside pocket
  • Zip up hand and shoulder bags
  • Carry bags in front of you, with flaps against your body
  • Keep straps short and bags tucked under your arm
  • Don't display jewellery, mobile phones and MP3 players
  • Don't show your money - keep it safely in your pocket
  • Stay alert and aware of what's going on around you when using your phone in public
  • Keep your luggage close by and check it regularly