InformationSafety Information

Greenhill Safer Neighbourhood Team urges Harrow Town Centre shoppers to be vigilant and stay safe
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Thieves and pickpockets are to be found just about everywhere and sadly they are present
daily in Harrow Town Centre. We have noticed an increase in the number of incidents of
pickpocketing and thefts of valuables left unattended.

The town centre is very busy with many people visiting the various retail outlets anddepartment stores during the summer holiday. The increase in footfall means that busy areas become attractive targets for criminals and we want to make sure that all of those taking to the shops are able to remain safe when doing so.

Greenhill Safer Neighbourhood officers are keen to ensure the public remain vigilant for
pickpockets and individuals looking to steal their gifts or personal possessions.

Don’t let them pocket it

How to spot a pickpocket

The observers – These include people loitering in public places who appear to be checking out passers-by, paying particular interest to their handbags, shopping bags and where they might place their wallet or purse.

The opportunists – Pickpockets also operate in shops and department stores, where people are more likely to be standing still, distracted and so paying less attention to their belongings, making them an easier target. Be more aware of your surroundings in busy shops and shopping centres because they’re ideal places for pickpockets, as it’s easier for them to brush past people, take items and blend into the crowd.

Team tactics – Pickpockets don’t always operate alone, they may work in teams to distract the target while someone unseen removes the items and blends back into the crowd. Another member might step in as an enforcer in the event of an altercation.

Crowding in – Thieves vary their tactics based on the location and the density of the crowd. One tactic is where a group of them push up against a victim in a crowded shop or street then quickly reach into the victim’s pocket and steal their wallet, phone or purse.

The point of distraction – Pickpocket teams are adept at creating distractions. This could be anything from a game to a loud shout, all designed to avert your attention while an unseen accomplice steals your valuables. So do try not to be easily distracted.

Dirty tricks – Remember, pickpockets are very skilled at what they do. They know all the tricks and are extremely light-fingered with most of their thefts only taking a second or two. One of their tactics is ‘hugger mugging’ where a thief will appear to be over-friendly for no particular reason and hug you while pickpocketing you.

Are you a prime target?

  • Keep purses and bags closed and secure at all times.
  • Carry bags in front of you or diagonally across your chest.
  • Return cards to your purse or wallet quickly and zip it up or button it.
  • Use a purse that’s difficult to open. One that zips or snaps shut is best, and
    keep it closed.
  • Use a money belt if you’re carrying a significant quantity of cash.
  • Conceal your wallet in a buttoned or zipped pocket where it doesn’t bulge.
  • Keep a list, separate from your wallet and phone, of contact numbers of family in case your phone is stolen.
  • Keep a photocopy of your airline tickets, passport, credit cards and any other documents that would be impossible or inconvenient to replace if stolen.

  • Don’t hang stuff on the back of a chair.
  • Don’t leave anything on the back of a pushchair.
  • Don’t place your belongings out of sight on the floor.

Remember, having a zipped bag doesn’t mean you’re totally safe. Thieves have
been known to walk behind victims while slowly unzipping bags. Yes, they can be
that bold. So, never underestimate a pickpocket.

Protect Your Phone

  • Don’t leave your phone, iPad, tablet or camera unattended, out of your sight
    or left on a table – thieves can grab a phone from a table in seconds.
  • Always be aware of your mobile and your whereabouts and act accordingly.
    And when you’ve finished using it, put it away.
  • Ensure you retain a record of your phone’s IMEI number. This is a 15-digit
    unique number which can be obtained by keying in *#06#. You need this
    information if the phone is lost or stolen. And don’t keep a note of it on your
    phone as it defeats the object.
  • Use your device’s security features, apps or PIN locking mechanisms to
    protect your data and prevent the phone being used if stolen.
  • Immobilise it. Register for free on an accredited mobile phone database such
    on This helps police to identify you as the rightful
  • Track it. Consider installing a tracker app on your smartphone. They’re readily
    available online. If your mobile’s ever stolen, act promptly.

For more crime prevention advice, please visit our website at: