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Three personal thefts now take place each minute

Press release: 14/03/2014

  • Three Brits fall victim to bag theft or pickpocketing every 60 seconds
  • The average bag is now worth £316, including contents
  • According to new Police data, 'pickpocketing', 'mugging' and 'theft from a person' all increased in 2013 compared with 2012
  • Most thefts from a person in the past two years were recorded by Metropolitan Police, West Yorkshire Police, Thames Valley Police and West Midlands Police

Every minute [1] three Brits have a bag stolen or fall victim to 'pickpocketing' according to LV= home insurance.

New research commissioned by LV= reveals that 1.8 million British adults had a bag stolen or fell victim to pickpocketing in 2013, with the majority of UK constabularies reporting that the number of personal thefts have increased [2] by 7% since 2012.

The rise in bag theft and pickpocketing can be partly attributed to the increasing value of a handbag and its contents, with the average person now carrying around £316 [3] worth of goods. The average bag is now usually filled with small, but expensive gadgets, such as mobile phones, MP3 players, e-readers and tablets [4], all of which can easily be stolen and sold on.

Official Police figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request show that the number of personal thefts has increased since 2012 [5]. Pickpocketing, mugging and theft from a person all increased in 2013 compared with 2012 (by 10%, 6% and 5% respectively), while household robbery [6] fell by 8%.

Analysis of Police data reveals that the majority of theft from a person happens in broad daylight and incidents are most likely to take place on Saturdays, between the hours of midday and 3pm, with one in five (20%) of all thefts from a person taking place during these three hours. Saturday night when the pubs close is the second most common time with 17% of thefts taking place between 11pm on Saturdays and 2am on Sundays.

According to the research many thefts take place when the victim is easily distracted. One in six (16%) victims were targeted in bars and pubs, one in seven (14%) fell victim to theft while on public transport and a similar number (13%) were targeted while walking along the street.

Call Lane, in the heart of Leeds, is the road where most thefts from a person were reported, with 969 incidents recorded by West Yorkshire Police in the past three years. This was followed by the Victoria Centre area in Nottingham, with 812 logged by Nottinghamshire Police.

The Metropolitan Police, the largest force in England, recorded the most thefts from a person over the past two years (19,587), followed by West Yorkshire Police (9,928) despite being the fourth largest police force area in the UK. This was followed by Thames Valley Police (8,006) and West Midlands Police (7,484) which are the sixth and third largest forces in the UK respectively. In terms of perpetrators, the age of thieves varies widely, with the youngest offender recorded aged just seven, caught by Norfolk Constabulary, and the oldest aged 83, arrested by City of London Police.

Most home insurance policies do not automatically cover theft away from the home unless personal possessions cover is added to the policy. With just 6% of theft victims getting their items returned to them, LV= is urging people to check their insurance to ensure they are not left out of pocket if something is taken while out and about.

The continued popularity of small gadgets, which have a high value and can be easily sold on, has led to an increasing number of personal thefts in recent years. With an average bag and contents worth around £316, they are a tempting target for most thieves. Theft away from the home is not covered as standard on most home insurance policies and it is worth checking that you have the right cover for your belongings should the worst happen.

Selwyn Fernandes, Managing Director of LV= home insurance

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For further information please contact:

Vanessa Chance,, 0208 256 6996 / 07947 380074


All research unless stated otherwise was conducted by ICM research between 30 January and 3 February 2014. ICM questioned a representative sample of 2,035 Britons about their experience of theft outside of the home, and a bespoke sample of 200 victims of theft outside of the home.

In addition, LV= issued an freedom of information request to all 51 Police forces in England, Wales and Scotland. At the time of publishing 37 of the 51 forces had replied with at least one piece of data.

  1. By 'personal theft' we are referring to both non-violent theft (recorded as 'theft from a person') and violent theft (recorded as 'robbery') that took place outside of the home. This includes bag snatching, mobile phone theft, pickpocketing, etc. According to ICM, 3.7% of UK adults (according to ONS the adult population is 47.7 million) have been the victim of theft outside the home last year (2013), the equivalent of 1,764,000 incidents. 1,764,000 incidents divided by 365 (the days per year) equals 4,835. There are 1,440 minutes in a day. 4,835 divided by 1,440 = three incidents every minute.
  2. Source: FOI issued to all 51 Police forces in England, Scotland and Wales by LV= home insurance. Of the 51 Police forces, 37 replied with at least one piece of data at the time of collating. Of those that replied to these specific questions and were able to split the data, pickpocketing increased from 2,579 to 2,848 incidents between 2012 and 2013 (an increase of 10%), mugging increased from 615 to 652 (6%), theft from a person increased from 4,196 to 4,416 (5%) and robbery fell from 8,117 to 7,474 (-8%).
  3. Source: ICM. According to theft victims, the average value of a bag is £88 and the average value of its contents is £228.
  4. Source: ICM. 53% of people carry a mobile phone in their bag, 9% MP3 players, 4% e-readers and 5% tablets.
  5. Source: see footnote two.
  6. 'Robbery' is defined as the taking or attempting to take something of value by force or threat 'away from the home' and does not include burglary.

About LV=

LV= employs 5,700 people and serves over five million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK's largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trade unions.

Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.