Transport for London (TfL) has removed a sign from the London Underground which warned people not to accept help from a stranger - resulting in internet users decrying the state of humanity.
Reddit user LauraVi spotted the sign in question at Marble Arch Tube station on Wednesday (7 February) and shared a photo. It read: "Only ask staff for assistance. Do not take help from a stranger as they may be trying to distract you."
The latest TfL crime figures revealed a 32.4% increase in theft of passenger property across the London Underground network in July to September 2017 compared to the same period a year earlier. Police have often warned that pickpockets usually work in pairs, with one person talking to the victim to distract them while their partner takes the opportunity to steal from unwary commuter.
LauraVi said the sign made her sad, and added she often offers help to confused travellers. She wrote: "I always help tourists when I see them struggling with the ticket machines :( ... now I might feel too self-conscious to do so. I understand why this sign might be needed but still... sad."
Others seemed to agree. Another user, LYRAA33, said she often stops to help tourists who are looking at the night Tube map instead of the normal map at 9am on a Wednesday, for example. A third person added: "I often offer to help people with their bags if I see them struggling. I think I will keep doing it."
Helpful Reddit users were told to ignore signs like this. "Keep on helping them. Signs like this divide us," one person said. It was also described as a "literal sign of the times" and "seriously f**king depressing".
A TfL spokesperson told IBTimes UK the notice had been removed after staff realised the tone of the message was wrong. They said: "This message was produced by station staff trying to make sure customers have safe journeys. Although the thought behind it was right, it was clearly not very well executed and has now been taken down."