How to Avoid Theft on European Trains

BY kevin4371
Theft of Luggage on European Trains

Theft of Luggage on European Trains

Train travel in Europe is efficient, comfortable and usually quite safe. Many tourists somewhere on their European adventure will travel by rail.  However, where there are tourists there are thieves. The theft of luggage from trains is an ongoing problem. The more stops on your trip the more chances of theft. So if you plan on train travel take a moment and learn how you can arrive at your destination with your luggage.

You have two options when it comes to luggage storage on a train. You use the more convenient train’s baggage-check service, your bag is usually locked up in the train’s baggage car which is a separate car from the passenger cars, or you can take your luggage on board. While this allows you to keep an eye on your bags, it is more difficult and it too has risks, read on for advice on to avoid theft on your next European train trip.

Where Does Theft On Trains Happen Most In Europe?

Theft of luggage and bags from trains can happen anywhere, however, history shows that  theft is more common on trains in Italy, France, Spain, England, as well as many Eastern European countries.  Theft from train passengers has always seemed to be more prevalent on night trains – especially in Eastern Europe.

Some train lines have higher theft issues than others. For instance, with Eurostar, there are few intermediate stops and those stops have good security where thieves cannot enter the platform area without a ticket.

Video Showing Thieves Stealing Tourists Luggage on European Train Car in London

Retractable Cable lock

Retractable Cable Lock for Luggage

Tip No. 1  Put Your Luggage On the Train Overhead Luggage Rack Across From You on European Trains

As you saw in the above video, never, never, carry on your luggage and leave it in the train car luggage storage area.  You just saw how the thieves casually waited until no one was watching, picked up someone’s luggage, and walked off the train.  No one was there to stop them – there is not positive claim system.

When you take luggage on board a train with you, you should always put the luggage in the overhead rack across the aisle from you – so you always have direct eye contact with your bags.  Don’t put it on the rack over your head – you can’t see it there.

Tip No. 2  Always Lock Your Luggage Down If You Are Going To Sleep On A European Trains

If you have to leave your luggage unattended, or if you plan on sleeping, lock your luggage, backpack, or other travel bags down with a security anti-theft luggage cable to the train luggage rack over your head or across from you.

Luggage Security Cable with Combo Lock and 48" Steel Cable

Luggage Cable Lock with Combo Lock

Thieves look for luggage, backpacks, or other travel bags that are easy to lift and carry off, locking your bag down prevents theft.  Thieves don’t want to be caught with or be seen with cutting tools.

Tip No. 3 Beware of Train Theft Scams By Thieves Posing As Lost Tourists

It’s not always the luggage in or on the train luggage racks near the door that are targeted for theft.  It’s rare but some scams target the bags of travelers that are directly over the traveler’s head.

Working as a team, one thief walks up and distracts and diverts the traveler’s attention with conversation while the other thief takes the bag and hops off the train.

Another train theft scam to be alert for involves thieves who rip phones out of the hands of train travelers as the train doors begin to close. The below video shows the snatching of a cell phone in London, but has happened on metro trains across Europe.

Best Tips for Locking Down Luggage On Trains

If you are securing your luggage, keep in mind how luggage gets stacked up on train luggage racks during your train journey.  When you locking your luggage down to a train luggage rack, lock it in a vertical position, and not horizontally, as that will minimize the piling of other bags on top of yours.

It’s much easier to pull a bag out from a vertical position. Here is a sample luggage cable lock that you can use to lock down your luggage while on board a train.

Train Luggage Theft Prevention Tips

  • Try not to sleep in a compartment alone if you can help it. When traveling – use the buddy system.
  • Lock or chain your bag to the luggage rack.
  • Daypacks are bigger targets than large suitcases.  They know that is where you keep your most valuable items.
  • If you are in a group use it in your favor.  Have someone guard the bags when others are busy or occupied.
  • Top bunks are more secure than bottom ones.
  • Lock your train compartment.  If someone wants to come in fine…just let them knock first and you can let them in.
  • Be especially cautious around the train station area.
  • Be cautious of people trying to “help” you with your bags or with directions to a platform.  They either want to rob you or get you to pay them an obnoxiously large tip.