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Luggage theft on UK trains is the crime no one is talking about

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In the last five years, the British Transport Police have received over 7,000 reports of luggage theft onboard UK railways.

In comparison, just over 300 individuals have been reported as being caught red-handed. Of those caught, individuals have then been faced with summons or charges.

Though this list is not exhaustive, railways operators who are facing problems with luggage theft include Great Western Railway, Virgin Trains (including East Coast), South West Trains, Transpennine Express, Cross Country, Arriva Train Wales, East Midlands Trains, Southeastern and Northern Rail.

Last year my luggage was stolen from a Virgin Trains West Coast service, and I was told upon reporting the crime that Virgin Trains are ‘committed' to their work with the British Transport Police and Department for Transport to ‘ensure a safe and secure railway for all passengers and staff.’

Having spoken to the constable who was investigating my incident about this statement, his answer was contrary. I was advised luggage theft is considered a high volume crime by the British Transport Police, but quite often due to poor quality CCTV, those committing the crimes are often left uncaught. 

I’m told railway operators pay no attention to the British Transport Police when asked to update their security measures, including advertisement. Issues surrounding security measures include costing and company image – if railway operators are seen to be alerting passengers of luggage theft, they believe it will consequently have a negative image on their branding.

Though the British Transport Police would not make an official comment for the purposes of this article, they did re-direct me to their webpage of the luggage theft section which states: “We’re doing everything we can to reduce instances of pickpocketing, gadget theft and luggage theft, and you can protect yourself too” in which the BTP advise on how to protect yourself from falling victim to luggage theft.

To see how you’re able to protect yourself from luggage crime this new year, visit the site here.

The British Transport police advise most luggage crimes happen before the train leaves the departing station – with thieves following passengers onto the carriage and making a quick run and grab when the passenger isn’t looking.

If you’re travelling home or visiting friends and family over the next few months, take extra precautions with your luggage.

Figures obtained via FOI.

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