Prolific Pickpocket Jailed After Stealing From Women's Handbags

Anti-pickpocket advice given after Wandsworth woman targeted

Related links

Register for the Newsletter

Register for the Newsletter

A man who used a newspaper to cover his hands as he stole from women’s handbags on the Tube has been jailed, following a British Transport Police investigation. Arturs Namnieks (35), of no fixed address, appeared at Blackfriars Crown Court on Wednesday 16 October.

He was sentenced to a total of 12 months in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of theft and four counts of breaching an Anti Social Behaviour Order.

One of Namnieks' victims was a 31-year-old from Wandsworth who was boarding a southbound Northern line train when she felt a tugging on her handbag. Namnieks was standing directly behind her and was using a newspaper to cover his face. He had stolen her mobile phone and immediately left the platform.

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Constable Elaine Sexton, the investigating officer, said: “Arturs Namnieks was a prolific pickpocket who used the busy environment and ‘concealed hand’ tactic to get close to his victims in order to dip into their bags.

“I hope his prison sentence sends a clear message that theft will not be tolerated.”

The convictionl follows the launch of Operation Magnum earlier this year, the campaign to help Tube and rail passengers keep valuables safe from pickpockets, gadget-grabbers and luggage thieves.

DC Sexton added: “Our pickpocket squad officers are always out on patrol in plain clothes across the Tube network and arrest these types of offenders every day.

“There are also lots of things that the public can do to protect themselves from becoming a victim of theft. Remember to always zip up any hand or shoulder bags, carry wallets in an inside pocket and stay alert to what’s going on around you.”

If you think your property has been stolen:

  • Be calm and don’t panic. Report it to a member of transport staff or a police officer straight away
  • Report a theft on the Tube or railway network to British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40 or text 61016.
  • Report a theft on the bus to the Metropolitan Police Service on 101
  • In an emergency dial 999 or speak to a member of transport staff or the police
Tips for keeping your property safe on London’s Tubes and trains:
  • Keep purses secure and carry wallets in an inside pocket
  • Zip up hand and shoulder bags
  • Carry bags in front of you with flaps against your body
  • Keep straps short and bags tucked under your arm
  • Don’t display jewellery, mobile phones and MP3 players
  • Don’t show your money — keep it safely in your pocket
  • Stay alert and aware of what's going on around you when using your phone in public
  • Keep your luggage close by and check them regularly
To see videos of some of the common tactics used by thieves, visit

October 25, 2013