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pickpockets by steve webel via flickr

Beware of pickpockets while in Brussels

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.

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pic credit – Steve Webel via flickr

Suruchi Sharma Diwan

A traveller, dreamer, drifter and a social cause crusader.. that's how Suruchi Sharma Diwan likes to describe herself. She loves music, food, fashion and videogames but most of all she is a sucker for masala films - Bollywood as well as Hollywood - and that's what she mainly writes about.

3 Comments

  1. In seven years of working in Brussels, I never felt victim of any of these. Only one single burglary, and mostly because I was renting an apartment with stupid neighbours opening to anyone and inner doors easy enough to break like cardboard.
    If anyone is stupid enough to leave his/her valuable goods unwatched anywhere, that’s up to him/her.
    The fact is, you are, indeed, trying to scare away people from coming to Brussels by presenting the city like it’s a nightmare, when all you need there is common sense. I don’t like Brussels, but only because I come from Liège, which has worse crime rate than Brussels, and where I never *ever* felt victim of any crime after five years living in there.

    • @jeanmarcleroy:disqus This is issue with every big city. When we moved to Brussels and we were at our embassy for security we were given strict advice. The car of founder of a major cloud company from Germany was broken right in front of our appartment and we lived in posh area with consulates around us. Thugs stole his macbook and cameras worth E 6000. Another friend was mugged and then the appartment of another friend was broken into and cash and laptop was stolen. Our bikes were stolen from our locked garage…It doesn’t hurt to warn – I specifically asked for his article as I have been victim and I don’t want anyone else to suffer.

    • You’re lucky Jean-Marc, I’ve been living here for 6 months and had my wallet stolen from inside a zipped up hand-bag twice. Once in a cafe, and now, this weekend on the metro. I wasn’t being stupid, or leaving my valuables unwatched – the bag was across my body. ( The article refers to a wallet being stolen from a jeans pocket. ) The people who steal are highly organized and swift. I’ve lived in a number of cities around the world and never, ever been robbed before. The lesson is, don’t carry any any valuables at all in Brussels. The police man I reported to said he carries his Id and cash in his sock!

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