The Clever Travel Companion Updates

6-fold increase in pickpocketing in just 8 years November 02 2017, 0 Comments

Pickpocketing in Malta has last year reached an all-time high of almost 2,500 cases, an average of seven reported a day. These statistics have forced the Maltese parliament to address the issue in public. While Malta may not be the best example of the situation worldwide, this is a statistical reflection of the rise in pickpocketing cases reported worldwide and a demonstration of how brazen, professional, organised and adaptive thieves are becoming. 

This worrying trend, which has been developing over a number of years, is even more pronounced when considering that the overall total for 2016 shows a sixfold increase when compared to 2009.

Details on various thefts offence committed last year were tabled in Maltese Parliament recently by Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela in reply to a question by Opposition MP Beppe Fenech Adami.

The places to avoid were the main tourist hotspots of Valletta and Paceville.

It transpired that, in 2016, pickpocketing was the most common type of theft reported, with 2,447 cases. This was 20 per cent up over the previous year. According to the data, this offence rose steadily since 2013. Four years ago 1,469 pickpocketing cases were reported, followed by 1,538 in 2014 and 2,030 in 2015.

This trend has been linked to a number of Eastern European gangs, some of whom have been brought to justice already and further demonstrates that this is a pattern seen all over Europe and not just in Malta. In Paris for example, the rise in pickpockets around the metro and Eiffel tower have seen a number of Eastern European gangs prosecuted as has London's Transport Police in relation to a rise in thefts on the London Underground. 

Cases the police refer to as “snatch-and-grab”, whereby the offender forcibly obtains personal belongings like bags, purses and mobile phones, increased to 179 in 2016, an increase of 41 per cent over 2013.

Though no detailed overall breakdown of the localities where pickpockets are most likely to strike was divulged, this newspaper last month reported that, in 2016, one in every eight offences was reported in Malta's tourism hub, Valletta. This data confirms earlier research carried out by criminologist Saviour Formosa who had concluded that, in 2015, the places to avoid were Valletta and Paceville.

Safe not sorry

• The Maltese police rolled out a crime prevention campaign last summer targeting the spike in pickpocketing together with a number of tips to avoid being targeted.

Keep purses secure and carry wallets in an inside pocket.

• Bags should be carried in front with flaps against your body.

• Keep straps short and bags tucked under the arms.

• Do not display any jewellery.

• Do not show any money – keep it safely in your pockets.

• Stay alert and aware of what is going on around you.

• If possible, install a tracker application on your smartphone.

• Keep a record of the unique reference number (IMEI) of your phone – this can be retrieved by dialling *#06#.

• Use your phone’s security lock or PIN number.

• Do not write PIN numbers for credit/debit cards on your mobile phone.


Top Pickpocket Locations? The London Underground! July 17 2017, 0 Comments

The London Undergound: for tourists, a must try experience widely featured as part of London and the U.K's unique culture. For Londoners, a love hate relationship. They love the convenience of being able to cheaply hop on and off regular trains spanning the entire breadth of the city yet hate the hustle and bustle, the cramped platforms and even more cramped trains and for some platforms, then there's the pickpockets.... 

UK insurance company Row has compiled a report outlining three of London's underground and over ground train platforms as the absolute worst for pickpockets and theft in the whole of the UK. More specifically, gadget theft.

The firm said that no less than 85 per cent of UK gadget pickpocket claims this year have cited Bank station as the location for the stolen item, followed by Victoria and Kings Cross.

The insurance company also reported Bangkok, Sydney and Barcelona as the top international locations for claims of stolen gadgets such as phones, cameras and tablets.

The firm has compiled a list of must-dos to avoid being pickpocketed, including carrying devices in zipped bags when not in use, keeping said bag in front of your body, taking cheaper devices on travels, and limiting the use of gadgets in busy places.

The company also – unsurprisingly – advises travelers to get their devices insured, citing deals from as little as 10p per month to cover the new Nokia 3310.

So keep your eyes on your valuables Clever Traveler's! One thing this insurance company wont be directing their claimants and customers to do is protect themselves from being pickpocketed in the first place rather than relying on a dubious insurance claim to return your lost goods. We're in the business of prevention! Pick up some Clever Travel Companion pickpocket proof gear today and make sure you don't fall victim!