Commuters carry over £500m worth of valuables on TFL network but lose 330,000 of them in a year

11 Dec, 2017

11 Dec 2017  Commuters are carrying valuables worth more than £516 million every year, new research from Policy Expert has revealed. 8.6 million people travel across the TFL network, each carrying valuables worth more than £600, with mobile phones, jewellery and wearable gadgets all making the list of the most common items.

In addition to these findings, a Freedom of Information request to TFL also reveals that more than 330,000 items including phones, laptops, desktop computers and games consoles, made its way into TFL’s lost and found last year.

Of the incidents highlighted via the FOI, mobile phones were one of the most commonly lost items with 34,322 left behind. More than 1,000 laptops and 70 games consoles have also gone astray.

The data – which shows the total items lost every year since 2013 – revealed there has been a 24% increase in lost items, including a 19% increase in technology gadgets being left behind.

Year Total items found Phones Laptops Desktop Games consoles
2016/17 332,077 34,322 1078 10 71
2015/16 317,421 34,045 984 6 67
2014/15 301,053 32,620 874 8 44
2013/14 268,780 29,094 764 3 40

Adam Powell, Head of Operations at Policy Expert commented: “It’s easy to get distracted whilst travelling on public transport, particularly during the rush hour when trains, tubes and buses are jam packed. But it’s important to ensure you’re keeping a careful eye over your belongings to avoid taking a trip to the lost and found. Most importantly, make sure your home insurance policy includes away from home cover, that way, should you lose or leave a valuable item on the train, bus or tube, you know you’re covered.”

The most popular items UK adults carry on their daily commute:

  1. Mobile phone – 92%
  2. Wallet or purse – 76%
  3. Jewellery – 34%
  4. iPad/tablet- 14%
  5. Wearable tech (e.g. Fitbit or Garmin) – 12%
  6. Laptop – 9%
  7. Kindle or e-reader – 6%


Top tips for protecting your valuables

  1. The most lost and stolen items in the last year were mobile phones – while it’s tempting to check your phone when on the move, ensure you’re being sensible with where you make calls and texts. Keep it out of sight in a zipped bag or pocket.
  2. Never idly put down any small valuable item, such as a phone or purse. Valuables left on tabletops in restaurants will be both easy and tempting to snatch and leave behind.
  3. Keep your bag where you can see it, especially when on the tube or in a crowded area. If you’re in a restaurant place your chair leg through a bag handle to make it harder to move.
  4. Be cautious if you’re walking by yourself, in the dark or with earphones in – being alone or distracted by music can make you more attractive to thieves.
  5. If you’re using a cash machine, be wary of who is around you and make sure your pin is covered.
  6. Thieves often work in groups, so try not be distracted by commotion or attention which could be a ploy.
  7. Finally, check whether your home insurance policy includes away from home cover so if the worst does happen, you at least know you are covered financially.