London is killing me.
I have lived in this city for 52 years and have never felt so unsafe.
Crime is on the rise. The capital’s crime rate in 2022-2023 is 100.9 crimes per 1,000 people, compared to 92.8 the previous year.
Crime has certainly fallen during the coronavirus lockdown. However, since then it has been on an upward trend. Knife crime has increased over the past two years. Violent crime (260,000 crimes from October 2022 to September 2023) increased by 1.5% last year.
I’ve given up on the London police. In Islington, my area of north London, I rarely see a single police officer.
But I have an answer for crime-ridden London. It is a series of measures that make me almost invisible to criminals. And they paid off. Crime is on the rise, but I have never been a victim in my 15 years since I introduced a discreet consumption policy into my life.
Our policy is simple. Don’t wear, drive, or ride anything that criminals find attractive. That way, criminals will never attack you.
Drive an expensive car. According to recent reports, it is becoming almost impossible to insure a Range Rover in London because police are unable to catch car thieves. Drivers are either unable to insure their Range Rovers or have to pay incredibly high premiums. The insurance quote for the Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic in London was £22,515. In Sussex, 20 insurers offered insurance for the same car for £1,978 a year.
After Range Rover, the second most commonly stolen brand in the UK by thieves is Mercedes-Benz, another attractive brand.
answer? Don’t buy flash cars. Or, in my case, don’t buy a car at all. I rent a car in London when I need it and only pay for minimal insurance. I’ve been doing this job for 15 years and my rental car has never been stolen. That’s not surprising. I always choose the cheapest, least attractive, and least likely to be stolen model.
My mode of transportation in London is cycling. Bicycle theft has been virtually decriminalized in the city, and more than 90% of thefts go unsolved.
I’ve always had my bicycle stolen. 6 units in 10 years. It was cheap at around £250, but there was a catch: it was new and therefore appealing.
Hence my most discreet consumption ploy. Over the past 10 years I’ve been buying much smarter bikes – Boardman models – for around £700. But I’ve never had one stolen because I deliberately dripped white household paint all over the bike in an amateurish way (don’t be fooled, I had a friend copy my trick). , her bike was stolen within days (her David Hockney-esque paint job) made the bike look even cooler).
My Boardman works just as well as it did before painting, but the resale value has dropped to almost nothing. Yes, I would be in trouble if I wanted to sell it, but I would never sell it. The older it gets, the more likely it is to be stolen. Oh, and the more white paint you pour, the more noticeable it will be in the dark.
There’s no need to completely get rid of the good things in life – Use only in safe areas.
I stopped wearing my gold Omega watch, which was a bequest from my late godfather. However, I still enjoy this watch. In fact, I like it better than when I always wore a watch and was in a near-constant panic that it might get swiped. I now have it next to my bed at home and look at its face lovingly before I go to bed and when I wake up in the morning. Instead, I rely on a £27 Casio watch during the day. This watch is beautiful to look at, but no self-respecting thief would ever harm it.
Another theft target in London is mobile phones. Some of my friends have had their email stolen right away by a robber on a moped while standing on the curb checking their email.
My unremarkable reaction? I don’t check my phone on the street unless I can turn my back on the street and settle into an alcove, leaning my phone against the wall and using my body as a barrier to the outside world. I have never had my cell phone stolen.
I love Barbour and Belstaff jackets, but not only are they expensive, but they also signal to the world that you could be the victim of a robbery. Instead of the £750 Belstaff, I buy a very similar jacket from a farm clothing store in Pembrokeshire. price? 30 pounds. They look just as good and don’t have the brand name on them, which is often a good thing, but I always think the brand name is a little lame and stands out a little too much.
Yes, it’s a depressing commentary on London’s crime and police flaws that necessitate such measures being taken. But they don’t bring me down. I have incorporated them into my daily life for a long time and now I don’t even think about them.
And they bring a crime-free, worry-free life in the city.
It’s virtually impossible to insure a Range Rover in crime-ridden London
Harry Mount is the author of How England Made the Englishman (Penguin).