‘Theft from person’ covers theft (including attempts) of item or items (e.g. cash, phone) directly from the victim, but without the use or threat of physical force. There are two types of theft from the person:

  • Snatch theft - taking a bag cleanly from a shoulder is an example of this. Force may be used, but not against a person. 
  • Stealth theft (e.g. pickpocketing) - where no force is used and the victim is unaware of the incident.

Stealth theft makes up around 70-80% of theft from the person incidents.

Tips to reduce the risk of theft

There are precautions you can take to both prevent theft from happening and to help you recover your stolen items. Thieves look for people and homes they can target. Take the time to make yourself aware of the tips to reduce the risk of theft from the person.

Be aware

  • Keep bags fastened and out of view.
  • Only take out what is necessary when going out at night.
  • Avoid listening to music on headphones whilst walking home at night alone. Keep to well-lit, busy areas.
  • Make sure no one is loitering too close when using a cash machine.
  • Don't be distracted while you remove your card and cash from the machine. 
  • After withdrawing cash, don't count your money in the middle of the street.

Look after your belongings

  • Mark belongings using a UV pen or other marking system.
  • Never leave your bag, mobile, tablet or laptop unattended in public view, even if you are going to the toilet.
  • Do not keep all your valuables in one place. Instead place items such as wallets and mobile phones in inside pockets.

Protect your mobile

  • Avoid talking on your mobile whilst walking home at night alone and keep to well-lit, busy areas.
  • Be careful when using it outside train and bus stations which are popular venues for snatch theft, often by motorcycle.
  • Keep it hidden from view, not in your back pocket.
  • Make a note of your personal IMEI number (type *#06# on your phone's keypad to get it). If you have the IMEI number you can block your phone being used if it is stolen.
  • Download a phone tracking application.

Content source: Theft from the person - Information pack for partners (July 2013), published by the Home Office.