Last year 1.8 million people fell victim as street crimes soared by an average of seven per cent.
Experts believe that better security in cars, homes and shops means criminals are now targeting victims on the street.
And more people on foot are carrying expensive gadgets like phones and iPads, with stolen valuables typically worth more than £300.
The criminals most often strike during daylight – with one in five of all incidents early on a Saturday afternoon, a survey found.
The second most common time is after the pubs close on Saturday nights when some 17 per cent of thefts take place between 11pm and 2am.
More than one in six opportunistic bag and phone thefts take place in bars and pubs.
Another 14 per cent occur on buses, trains and trams.
The youngest thief caught last year was a seven-year-old mugger in Norfolk while the oldest was an 83-year-old pickpocket in the City of London. The capital, Leeds and Nottingham are the street crime hotspots, according to the analysis of official police crime data by insurers LV=.
Pickpocketing rose by 10 per cent last year over the previous 12 months, muggings by six per cent and “theft from a person” by five per cent.
Peter Cuthbertson of the Centre for Crime Prevention urged people to take “common sense measures” such as keeping valuables out of sight or close to hand and being aware of who is around you. “But the key point,” he added, “is that people should be able to go about their lives without fear of muggings in the first place.
“A crackdown on street crime, including much longer prison sentences, would deter these thefts and protect the public.”