D800e with 24-70 on a vacation in London?

Started May 29, 2013 | Discussions thread
57even Forum Pro • Posts: 11,785
Gangs, pickpockets and statistics

quadraticadder wrote:

Hello all.  I'm going on a vacation to London this summer, and I'm worried about taking my D800e with 24-70 kit because of the chance that it will get stolen.  Am I too worried?  Should I leave it home and take a lesser kit (d90 with 24-200 VR, or gasp! a point and shooter?).  I'd leave it around my neck at all times if I took the d800e, and have it insured, but it will stick out like a massive temptation to pick pockets.  I've heard stories of thieves unlatching the lenses, etc.  Opinions?



Main issues in London...

In some of the more deprived estates on the London fringes you will find street gangs. They are territorial, don't venture off the patch, and are mainly involved in petty crime and drug distribution. They might, to prove themselves, stick up a lone mark at knife-point, but only where there are no CCTV cameras (almost nowhere these days). But their violence is mainly aimed at the competition. Their handlers don't like the attention. Avoid tatty high-rise estates,  and stick to the busier streets where there are people around.

Bike thefts of mobile phones has become a bit of an issue (kids on passing bicycles will snatch phones out of peoples hands when they are texting on the street). Obvious cure is, don't. If you need to do it, dive in a shop or something.

Pickpocket gangs in crowded or up-market areas exist, but are put off somewhat by CCTV. Just ignore any attempts to distract you. They usually don't speak good English and go for the less streetwise tourists. Just make sure your valuables are inaccessible to a casual grab (inside or zipped pockets, don't stand around like a twit, don't wear clothes that mark you out as foreign or wealthy, don't carry too much cash, take two cards and keep them separate, make sure you have a hotline number if your card is stolen). If you have a camera, get a bag that looks a bit anonymous and when walking somewhere you feel a little uncomfortable, put the camera away and keep walking.

There is always some idiot who needs a fix who will opportunistically grab something off a table or the back of a chair in a bar or restaurant, so don't leave your camera, phone or wallet on the table or the back of the chair, especially when there is easy access to the exit. Common sense, though surprisingly lacking in some.

ATMs are sometimes tampered with to steal your card and read your PIN. Use them in the daytime or find one with a queue. If the person in front of you is OK, you will be too.

Statistically you have a very small chance of anything happening to you. London gets over 30M visitors a year and nearly all of them experience no incidents at all. Of course it's no guarantee and there are a few thousand victims every year, but you would be VERY unlucky if it were you.   Out of 30M, even 30,000 victims would still only a 1 in 1000 chance, and I would say it's lower even than that. Common sense will lower your odds dramatically.

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