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200 views • August 23, 2023
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NTD News
NTD News

Ex-inspector on tactics used by pickpocketers

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Reports show cases of pickpocketing in London have shot up recently. Data from the British Transport police says between 2021 and 2022 pickpocket theft has more than doubled - with the Central Line on the London tube network the worst hit. Earlier, I spoke to Mike Neville, a former Detective Chief Inspector for London's Metropolitan Police, about sleight-of-hand robberies.


My name is Mike Neville and I was a Detective Chief Inspector at New Scotland Yard. I'm now the CEO of Super Recognizers International and I advise police forces across the world.

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Jane Werrell

UK Newsroom

Mike Neville, thank you for joining us. (The British Transport Police says reports of pickpocketing in London have increased significantly with the central line on the tube the worst hit.) So what kind of tactics do pickpockets typically use?

Mike Neville

Former Detective Chief Inspector

Well, pickpockets are, it's an international crime really. You get people flying in from as far away as South America to engage in this kind of crime. And it's obviously a very, in a sense, skillful crime to commit. You've got to have sort of the daring to do it and the actual physical manner in which you sort of use sleight of hand. And so, but of course, they will target the very busiest tubes, because the central line is very busy. So jostling up against somebody, if somebody feels somebody touching them or whatever, it won't be unusual on a very busy tube train. And they obviously also know that they'll target the central area because there'll be tourists there who are unaware, focused on other things and may well be carrying lots of cards and currency.


And there is a level of intrigue to this type of crime, I think, especially looking at how it's evolved, perhaps, over history. Are there any new tactics that are used these days?


Well, obviously, what they call the actual criminal name is "dipping" because you sort of dip your body down as you drop down and take the wallet out of the pocket. But one of the new methods, of course, is to approach people and say, I've got a map or can you tell me where I'm going? I was actually in Spain recently with a friend and somebody, oh, can we sign this petition? And as soon as the petition started going over his phone, I said, stop, we know what's going on here. So that's a real tactic and of course it's used when people are perhaps eating or drinking, when they're really focused on other methods. I've even seen sort of people, you know, stealing bags where, you know, a couple are engaged, you know, they're kissing and their focus is elsewhere. And the guy is almost doing a limbo dance underneath the table to get the bag. But because these, the couple are so engrossed in each other and everybody else is focused on what else, they get away with it. There's often a focus as well on venues with two ways to get in or out. So you know you go in one entrance, you do your steering and exit. So a lot of premises now have stopped that happening. You know there's one way in and it's the same way out.


So who are the typical p

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