Police will patrol mainline trains in southwest London in the coming days to remind passengers of tricky tactics used by thieves.

The advice follows a national British Transport Police (BTP) initiative held on Thursday, 13 March, to tackle pickpockets, gadget grabbers and luggage thieves who operate on the railway.

The day of action, as part of Operation Magnum, took place from 7am to 10pm and involved hundreds of uniformed and plain-clothes officers stepping up patrols on trains, at stations and across the London Underground network.

In total 18 people were arrested in connection with theft offences, while officers handed out crime prevention leaflets advising passengers of the different tactics used by thieves:

The Easy Dip – A thief takes advantage at busier stations and crowded trains, which make it easier for them to dip into the victim’s unzipped bag unnoticed.

The Plucker – A sleeping passenger can quickly become a victim of theft.

The Earlybird – A thief boards the train at the start of the journey: they pick out a bag and leave the train before it has departed.

The Blind-spot – Thieves will spot a victim who is distracted trying to store luggage on a busy train, or who cannot keep an eye on their valuables.

Chief Superintendent Paul Brogden, who led the operation, said: “During the Easter break many people travel on the railway to visit family and friends. We want passengers to be aware of the tactics and distractions used by thieves so they can better protect themselves from becoming a victim.

“Operation Magnum has been a success with a 15.7 per cent reduction in theft across the UK’s rail network. However, we are not complacent and will continue to do everything we can to protect the travelling public from thieves.”

Uniformed patrols and crime prevention advice onboard South West Trains services from Wimbledon to Waterloo via Clapham Junction and Southern services from Norwood Junction to Sydenham.