Video thumbnail, Pickpocket in action
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This alarming video shows just how easy it is to fall victim to pickpockets in London.

Lee Thompson, a stage pickpocket, is shown distracting members of the public beside the Thames while relieving them of their wallets and phones with disconcerting ease.

He was recorded in the act in this film by Nationwide Building Society to show Londoners just how careful they need to be with their belongings, especially in the run-up to Christmas .

A staggering 442,000 'thefts from person' were recorded across England and Wales in the year ending June 2015, according to Nationwide, with the culprits pocketing £190 worth of goods each time they strike.

The building society has urged shoppers to be on their guard during the festive season and to make sure their belongings are insured.

Less than half those targeted had insurance covering the stolen items, according to research by Nationwide, which polled more than 2,000 street theft victims.

Its survey showed goods in trouser and coat pockets were the most susceptible to pickpockets, accounting for 34% of such crimes, followed by bags worn over the shoulder or on the back (26%) and bags on the floor or a table (18%).

Dan King, Nationwide's head of the FlexPlus Current Account, said: "At this time of year people tend to carry more cash on them, making it really easy and lucrative for pickpockets to operate.

"Mobile phone thefts make up a large percentage of all property stolen on the streets and it's not just the phone itself that is valuable, but also the personal data it contains.

"There are a few simple things people can do to protect themselves if they become a victim of theft, such as installing some easy-to-use apps like 'find my phone'.

"It's also worth considering taking a good quality mobile phone insurance, like that offered as part of the Nationwide FlexPlus current account, to avoid ending up out of pocket."