No question about it, London is a wonderful place to visit but, when you visit any big city, you should always be wary. And, in that respect, travelling to London and enjoying all it has to offer is no different. Here, then, are just some of the very good reasons why it’s so important to be street-smart and not just relaxed and open-minded in the Big Smoke…
Don’t let them pick a pocket or two!
Being one of the world’s major metropolises, London is, naturally, used to petty crime; that said, it’s rare for visitors to experience it and, as you may well be aware, the city is a very safe place to visit. Nonetheless, if for nothing else than the Artful Dodger and Fagin’s gang in Dickens’ classic Oliver Twist, the association of pickpockets with London is relevant.
So, be sure to keep an eye on your possessions when you’re making the most of The Montcalm Club packages and out and about; don’t lose sight of the fact you’re in a major urban centre where petty thieves operate. Be sensible; don’t walk about with an open handbag over your shoulder and consider keeping your valuables and money in compartments on your person rather than pockets – especially if you don’t normally move around in a city environment.
Operating in a similar manner to pickpockets, thieves today also steal from bags – not least handbags – by cutting a slice in their bottom and thereby swiftly and stealthily taking away their contents. Not pleasant. Others prefer to cut into the sides of rucksacks and steal any possessions and valuables within. Without doubt, then, it’s important to remember where you are when you’re travelling and moving about busy, crowded areas of London Town.
Does that ATM look right?
Yes, we live in the 21st Century digital age (of which any The Montcalm Club member will, of course, be aware) and that means today’s crims are particularly advanced. A good example is that some will attach clever-clever hidden cameras to ATMs in order to record PIN numbers and card details of cash machine users. Be on the look-out, then, for anything that appears suspicious with an ATM; if it looks at all sus, avoid using it and seek out another to withdraw your cash from.
Nefarious contactless card-readers
A relatively recent scam is the use of, yes, contactless card-readers concealed in criminals’ bags and coats. They’re used to scan someone’s credit or debit card (when they’re brushed up against, say, on the Tube) and a contactless payment is ‘made’, ensuring money’s stolen from the card’s account. Such activity is possible when a visitor is keeping their credit or debit cards in the likes of a rucksack or back pocket. To prevent it happening to you, then, remember to keep your valuables elsewhere on your person and, if you’re genuinely concerned, you can even wrap your cards in foil so it’s impossible for them to be scanned.
Fake tickets for venues
Another longstanding scam designed specifically to take advantage of out-of-towners is the sale of fake tickets to West End and other venues. Should you be staying at the likes of the chic Montcalm Marble Arch and want to top off your visit by buying on-the-day cheap tickets to a theatre show, be sure only to visit the theatre itself or the designated TKTS theatre booth in Leicester Square, whose sole purpose is to sell such tickets.
Moreover, unlicenced ticket sellers (i.e. likely scam artists) operate outside and in the vicinity of many of London’s major venues. Be wary too, then, with the likes of the O2, The Roundhouse and sport venues – basically, if you come across an opportunity that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Only buy from legit outlets
Another purchasing scam concerns designer goods – and the maxim ‘if it looks too good to be true, it probably is’ applies here, too. For, although London enjoys the profile of being one of the world’s fashion capitals and, thus, a primary source for designer products, should you wish to purchase such a product, you’ll need to head to a genuine, legitimate designer outlet; far from every shop, let alone street vendor sells what you’re looking for. Even if it may look like they do. Yes, by all means, flock to market stalls for second-hand and especially awesome vintage goods but avoid them like the plague if it’s all about designer products, for you.
Be mindful of your phone
Camera phones are marvellous, aren’t they? Unfortunately, it’s not just the innocent – not least the innocent traveller – who thinks that, thieves feel exactly the same way. In which case, when you’re visiting a mega-metropolis like London, be extremely careful if and when you trust your phone with anybody you don’t know. Perhaps most pertinently here, if you ask a stranger to take a photo of you and your family or friends (say, if you’re all enjoying a stay at Montcalm hotels), you’re best advised to ask someone who appears to belong to a group of friends or family themselves. You can’t be too careful.
Ne’er-do-wells on two wheels
Finally, if you’re something of a – or a fully-fledged – cycling enthusiast, then you’ll feel at home in the UK capital. London’s becoming ever more bike-friendly; cyclists are, every day, becoming more and more common a sight on its cycle lanes and moving along its (mostly) less busy roads. However, not all cyclists (or moped-riders, for that matter) are fair-minded and kind-hearted souls.
Again, it’s all about being mindful of the world around you as you’re out and about with your phone and your valuables – you don’t want something to be swiped from your hand or a handbag off your shoulder and away by a passing cyclist or moped-rider. Not pleasant and, yes, although rare (like all the above potential crimes suggested in this article), it does happen now and again.
So, do remember you’re in a big city populated by all sorts of different people when you visit London – and look after yourself and your possessions!