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In collaboration with The City of London Police and Metropolitan Police we are reaching out to both the public and businesses to be wary of the ‘Hugger Muggers’ tactic used by thieves to distract their victims and sending out a reminder of crime prevention advice for the hotspot areas. This is due to an increase in street robbery and that when it comes to looking upon borough-specific crime rates the City of London has a significant higher crime rate than the London average.

Although you might have an idea of what a pickpocket looks like, this new tactic started by thieves makes them far less likely to stand out in a crowd than you might think. The ‘Hugger Muggers’ tactic is where a thief will appear to be overly friendly for no particular reason and hug you while pickpocketing you. These thieves don’t always work alone and often operate in multiple numbers to help distract, be unseen and target particular individuals. In 2020 the City of London Police reported that workers are targeted during after work drinks, in which laptops, phones and wallets are targeted during theft offences.

Tips for staying safe and to avoid losing your belongings firstly begins with understanding that street crime of such nature is opportunistic so, by making yourself less of an obvious target, moving around and being consciously aware of your surroundings will play a significant part in keeping you safe. Pickpockets will target individuals in shopping centres and shops due to their busyness, around this festive period as it makes them ideal places for pickpockets to easily ‘bump’ into people, take belongings and blend into the crowd.

‘Theft From the Person’, which includes pickpocketing is one of the worsening crime types within the City of London and since 2019 there has been a significant increase in recorded theft offences in the UK capitol. These statistics show the clear height of pickpocketing crimes occurring around us and with thousands of people passing us as we commute through London every day, it is easy to become desensitised from what’s really happening around us.

Remember these thieves are very skilled at how they execute the ‘Huggger Muggers’ tactic, they act quickly and often remain unseen. So, be prepared, be assertive and be aware of your belongings and surroundings. We know victims of street robbery particularly at risk are staff or customers leaving venues and workplaces, they could be leaving a bar or club late at night or after exiting a shop with a new purchase. In this the MET’s anti robbery campaign ‘’Look Up Look Out’, is an excellent reminder to keep your belongings such as mobile phones, watches and cash out of sight and to be aware. Plan your route home so you don’t need to have your mobile device out but, also to keep your devices locked so your personal accounts such as mobile banking cannot be accessed if you become a victim of theft. Also, having a zipped bag doesn’t mean you will be safe from street robbery; do not underestimate their tactics and determination.

Protect yourself from street robbery; stay vigilant, be aware and trust your instincts. With the festive period in full swing and alcohol being a driving factor to many evening activities during this period and therefore revellers being less aware and more relaxed theft becomes highly likely.

Stick to your planned routes and stay vigilant when crossing roads to transport hubs. It’s important to stick to safety in numbers by travelling with those you trust and know where possible, such as friends or work colleagues.

Remember the dos and don'ts of crime prevention advice to help spot a pickpocket and protect yourself from being a victim of street robbery.


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