So a couple of weeks ago my best friend and I had planned to go out for a quick bite and then head home for a relaxed evening. Unfortunately our ‘quick bite’ ended up in us sitting in a police station filing a police report.
Two guys had decided they had nothing better to do with their Saturday night, other than walk into a restaurant and steal a purse from my friend’s bag.
This made me realise that although I have been living in London for two years, I still forget that though it’s an incredible place to live in, it has a high level of crime, as most big cities do. This is why I decided I wanted to write a post about security in London.
When I first started my blog, the idea was to create something that people could go to in order to find information about my experience in London as an Italian student, find out about things I found interesting in this city; a sort of insight on the good and bad things London can offer. So when we walked out of the police station, I felt the need more than ever to use my blog for the sole purpose I had created it.
So I came up with a list of things to keep in mind when in London, to avoid theft and crime, which I hope will be helpful to whoever reads this post. I am in no way saying that London is a dangerous place to live in, but when you come from a small Italian city like I do, you might not always remember to take these precautions.
So let’s get started!
1– Do NOT bring ALL your credit/ debit cards out with you. If you own more than one debit/credit card, don’t keep them all in that one purse you use every day. This will automatically reduce the chances of ALL your debit/ credit cards being stolen at the same time.
2– Always keep you handbag on the inside of the table you are dining at if at a restaurant/bar. Keeping your bag on the outside of the table(meaning not towards the corner, but on the side of the people sitting next to you), will make it easier for anyone with bad intentions to grab something from your bag. If you are seated in-between two tables, the best option is to keep your bags between your feet( yes it’s not the nicest feeling to have your bag touching the floor, but trust me it is much better than having your belongings stolen from it!).
3.Keep your phone in your pocket (when sitting at a table) and not in your bag(unless you have it 100% under control). Also avoid keeping it in your coat/ jacket once you have taken these off at the restaurant.
4. If your phone or credit card is stolen, make sure you block these ASAP. Contact your provider and bank to explain what happened, and they will be more than happy to help you block your card or phone. Remember that if your card is stolen, you can always go to the bank with your ID and withdraw money from your account to survive until they issue you a new one.
5. If you are walking around London and carrying a rucksack, remember to wear it in front of you, so that you can see it when travelling. You’d be surprised to know how easy it is to unzip a rucksack on busy busses or trains, without you even realising. I’m telling you, magicians have nothing on these people!
6.Whenever you are withdrawing money from a cash machine, make sure you look around first. If you see anyone looking suspicious, avoid taking cash out at that precise moment. If the bank you are withdrawing money from is opened, I advise you step in the bank and widraw money from inside the bank. If it’s not, just wait until you find the next
7. If you are out and about and it is almost 3am and you have no idea of how to get home, don’t just stop any car that claims to be a cab. This may sound obvious, but when I first moved to London, I had no idea what a Uber was. There are different ways for arranging cabs( I personally use Uber) which are safe and reliable. Otherwise you could just stop a black cab, but in no occasion should you ever just hop on the back of a car that seems to be a cab, even if the driver claims to be a taxi man.
8. Avoid using in-store’s iPads for your purchases. This may sound odd, but I went in to a store once(which name I will not disclose) and I decided to purchase something from one of the store’s iPad. It was actually one of the sales assistants who suggested to buy it from the iPad, as the item was not in store. Cut a long story short, a few days later I checked my bank statement and realised I was a victim of card fraud. Someone had used my card to pay for a (cheap, not even luxurious!) hotel room. I could not understand how that had happened, when suddenly I remembered that the only person who could have possibly seen my card details was the sales assistant , who perhaps was able to go back on the page where I had inserted them. It could be that this wasn’t the case, and that it was just a rare coincidence, but I will definitely never use an iPad in a store again to purchase anything(better safe than sorry hey!).
10. Unless it is something very serious( and unfortunately a mobile or purse theft is not considered so), the police will take forever to arrive. So if you are nearby a police station, your best option is to just walk in and file your report to speed up the investigation.
11. Last but not least: Stay safe and be happy!
I hope this guide was helpful and please comment with any other tips you may have to avoid crime and theft in your city!
Until next time!