When you pack your bags to attend FOSDEM next week, make sure you travel light, pocketwise! While there is no denying that Brussels is a visual delight, offering a great array of museums, architecturally brilliant glass buildings, scenic walkways and great beer bars all around, but while you are strolling in the busy streets, soaking in the beauty of the place, beware of the keen eyes of pickpockets loitering around you.
Pickpockets have been known to target tourists especially in the busy metro stations like Gare du Midi. Popular tourist hotspots such as Rue des Bouchers is also a favourite with pickpockets. Due to a high rush of tourists in this narrow street near the Grand Place, theft is a common occurrence.
We are not in any way trying to scare you off from going to Brussels, No. But what we are trying to do is make you aware of what can happen, so that you do not fall prey to those sticky-fingered individuals. With a few tips, you will be able to protect yourself from these petty thieves and have the trip of a lifetime. Here goes:
The most valuable and important tip is to avoid keeping anything in your back pocket. It is the easiest place for trained pickpocketeirs to target,without even you knowing or feeling anything. Always carry your cash and valuables in a waist bag. You can also wear a money belt inside your shirt, so that you keep your cash close to your body all the time.
Next, you need to be careful while taking out cash from an ATM. While you can pay at most of the places using your card, you might not be lucky at all the places, and eventually you will have to draw out some cash. The tip to remember here is not to withdraw cash from a secluded ATM. Always look for the one that is situated in a busy street, with people around. Ideally, have a companion while withdrawing cash from an ATM . This will deter pickpockets from making a move on you.
Third and the last tip is to always pack well. While going on sightseeing tours or on other exploration trips, if you are carrying a bag with all your belongings, then make sure you have the most important items, or the things that you need at the top of your bag. For eg, if you have a guide book or a bottle of water, make sure it is in a side compartment of a bag or on the top. If it will be buried somewhere deep in the bag, then you will have to take out all your other stuff to locate the things you need and that would give pickpockets an idea as to what all you are carrying.
Editor’s note: Car jacking is one of the most popular crime in Brussels. The founder of a promising cloud company was visiting us for dinner and buggers broke into his car which was parked right outside the apartment and they stole electronics worth Euro 5,000. Another of my friend visiting from Spain was mugged at night and his passport, mobile, wallet was taken. So, be very careful around here.
Follow these simple tips and save yourself from being a victim. Enjoy your trip to Brussels! Have a happy FOSDEM.
pic credit – Steve Webel via flickr