Gathering together all your Christmas essentials – party wear, phone, laptop, novelty outfit for the family dog – presents a logistical nightmare. Anyone who’s got on a train around Christmas will marvel out how they got out with their sanity, let alone their luggage.

It’s a scenario that can make it all too easy for opportunist thieves, who will be as aware of this travel window as anyone else. Train travel is safe, and, if you get a seat, comfortable and enjoyable. If you get a table seat, you’ve really hit the jackpot. But it’s important to be aware that there are those looking to exploit the situation.

The British Transport Police outline some of the tactics that criminals use to relieve unsuspecting travellers of their stuff:

“The early bird”

Thieves will board a train which has a little while yet to depart and wait for the right moment to take items left in luggage racks – alighting before the train is due to leave.

Tip: We know you’re eager to bag that table seat, but just keep your items in sight, even if you can’t have them right by you at all times when boarding the train early.


“The weightlifter”

It’s easy to get distracted in busy stations and opportunist criminals are not easily identifiable. If you leave your bag for even just a couple of moments to get a drink or a snack, they could be gone in a flash. And, as we’re so often reminded in train stations, unattended bags could be viewed as a terrorist threat and destroyed.

Tip: This one’s pretty cut and dry. Just don’t leave your luggage. Anywhere. Anytime. If your desperate for an espresso or a bag of Monster Munch, better to put up with tuts from other shoppers as you knock magazines off the shelf or clip their ankle with your colossal suitcase, then to be left standing with just your refreshments.


“The sleeper”

Most of us have nodded off on a long journey (or short ones, no judgement here). But while you’re getting your snooze on, you can’t be standing guard of your possessions, which thieves will happily swipe before your very (closed) eyes.

Tip: If you’re feeling yourself getting drowsy and in the market for a bit of shut-eye, put your valuables away and make sure your bags are in close contact and difficult to steal. This could mean putting your rucksack or handbag on the floor in between your feet or even use it as a pillow.


“The blind spot”

This tactic outlined by the British Transport Police involves a thief identifying when someone hasn’t kept their luggage in view on a train. Like the early-bird, the criminal will use the train pulling into the station as their chance to make a swift exit before the victim notices their luggage has gone AWOL.

Tip: If you’ve had to put your luggage somewhere else, and let’s be honest, in their Christmas travel free-for-all if you’ve managed to get it on your carriage you’re doing well, then just be aware of this move and look out for it as your pulling into a station.

You can find plenty more helpful information to give you an idea of how best to keep your items safe while travelling on the British Transport Police website, as well as a number to call if you do need to report an incident.

Remember if your items have been stolen to make a note of the incident number so you can make a claim on your policy.

In the meantime, here are some handy items that can help keep your items secure:

  • A handbag hook – portable and small, this will help you keep your bag close by
  • A mobile phone bungee – great for foiling the would-be pickpocket
  • A padlock – for keeping your luggage that little bit more secure while in transit

An Arma Karma subscription protects your items against loss, accidental damage and theft while travelling. If you’ve not got cover in place already, you can get a quote and instant cover for a low monthly cost you can cancel at any time.

Safe travels!