I had my wallet stolen from inside my bag (which was zipped) in a Pain Quotidien Cafe in the area of Merode in Brussels.
I was sitting at the communal table at lunchtime, which is a large table in the middle of the room, surrounded by other smaller tables. I was there for about 8 minutes with my kids. The place was very busy, we hadn't much time and we couldn't get served, so we left to try our luck elsewhere.
In those 8 minutes two women sitting behind me unzipped my bag and took my wallet. The bag was under my jacket, and I did feel the jacket move and though it was slipping off the chair - presumably that's when it happened.
There was very little cash in the wallet, but lots of plastic, which they did try to use (unsuccessfully). I've never been robbed before and have travelled a lot.
Have since heard of others who've been robbed in the same cafe - it seems to be being targeted. The management were wholly disinterested. I think they ought to have a warning sign, It all looks so safe and nice - but clearly isn't. Beware!
My family and I were coming by train from Germany, on November 1st (2013), we were very exciting about it getting to Belgium, it's was a city that we always wanted to visit. Our journey stopped at North Station (friday night) - There was any secure at all there.
When we go out of the station, we were waiting for the taxis, and as soon that we looked back one of our bag was stolen by some pickpocket.
We lost our professional camera with 2 other lens on it, the worst was not to lose the material. Those objects are expensive but with efforts and working we can buy again, the huge lost was our whore trip photos. That we are never going to see again, it was like we have never did this travel. And one thing is for sure - I don't want to come back to Brussels soon.
The city is beautiful, but unfortunately the history above is the picture that we are going to remember and tell all of your friends.
As a usually very untrusting, vigilant and wary person, i was extremely shocked to find that whilst sat in the corner of a pub in the reletively nice area of flagey my bag was stolen.
The lesson is that you can never be too careful - theives will come inside a pub/restaurant and take things from your table and casually walk back out again. - the chances are you will never see it again.
Me and my boyfriend recently went to Belgium for a research trip as he is an architecture student and we were targeted by thieves on a train from Gent to Leuven which passed through Brussels.
The thieves got on at Brussels and by the time we were at Brussels North (a few minutes later) they have swiped our things without us even realizing and put them in a big bag.
We had a handbag and a laptop bag under the seats and a camera bag on the shelf above us. Our belongings were inches away from us but they still managed to take the stuff without us realizing.
The trains that run through Belgium are double decker trains are really nicely designed in terms of aesthetics and comfort, but from a security point of view they are awful. As the train is on two levels it is possible to see the belongings people may have underneath their seats on the second level, so as soon as a thief gets on the train they can identify the easily accessible goods. Furthermore there is no CCTV on the trains so there is nothing that can be done when things are stolen.
Do not let anything out of your sight on the train. They are very skillful so don't underestimate them.
Hopes this prevents anyone from making the same mistake! :)
Beware pickpocketers in front of Sheraton hotel! I was having a cigarette outside and my son was with me. A north African fella asked me a lighter. He asked where we were from. He started naming football teams from England. Suddenly they become 3 and one of them talking to my son and the other telling me how footballers tackle in England. He kind of put his foot between my legs and tried to tackle. The next thing I saw my wallet in his hands. I grabbed my wallet and walked away. I came to hotel and had a dinner. Later I found out that they did the same thing to 3 others and they were not lucky. One of the fella had his £4,500 stolen. The security guy said this is their technique. Be friendly, talk about football, tackles and walla! Your wallet is gone. Police were involved and I identified them on CCTV.
When I bought tickets at the window of the railway station, the lady behind warned me to watch out for the many young men standing around and she indicated there were many pickpockets in the station. A little later at night it is somewhat frightening especially if you dont know where you are going.
Use extra caution at Brussels railway stations and take good care of your goods and buy tickets only from the window and not from people trying to "help you"
My wife and I just boarded the ICE train to Cologne at the Midi station, and while putting our bags onto the overhead rack, a well-dressed black guy with a sweater on his arm squeezed past by me along the aisle. Before that I noticed that he always walked back and forth on the car, pretending to be looking for his seat no. while holding up a piece of paper ("ticket"), then upon reaching the end of the car would look back and glance around, perhaps for potential targets.
So just as he passed me I sort of felt my wallet rubbed against my thigh. Alarm bells rang inside me so I immediately reached for my wallet and it was gone! I quickly tapped the black guy and asked if I could look under the sweater on his arm; I didn't wait for an answer and looked but my wallet was not there. He just made a side glance at me but kept mum and moved on; I then looked at the floor and my wallet was there! WHEW!!! My vacation almost got spoiled. But I was very sure that black guy made an attempt on me. He probably couldn't actually get hold of it while it was in my pocket so he apparently tried to push it out and when it dropped on the floor, he'd likely drop his sweater to cover it and pick it up.
It only goes to show that pickpockets are everywhere, hence one should be careful especially in public transports.
Crime explodes in Brussels! That is what we could read on 22/09/2012 with full details and stats in newspapers like La Dernière Heure (www.dhnet.be) or La Libre Belgique (www.lalibre.be) under the title :
"La criminalité explose à Bruxelles.
La Grand-Place, la rue Neuve, le Sablon ont connu en 2011 une augmentation de près de 17 % des infractions" (Grand Place, the Rue Neuve, the Sablon in 2011 showed an increase of nearly 17% of offenses).
Now these parts of central Brussels are those most visited by tourists. Pickpockets are very active at the Grand Place and surroundings.
So be careful.
A Gallup on the website of that newspaper shows that 86% of the population feels unsecure in Brussels.
In the Grand Place and the area around the Agora/Gallerie St Hubert there are always lots of beggars, often assisted by children who approach you. The best thing to do is just ignore them, but be aware of being 'accidentally' bumped into. If you are sat at a table, be especially aware that your bags could be snatched as you are distracted by beggars. You also get lots of beggars in Place Luxembourg, but tourists tend not to spend much time there
I'm 28, Asian, born and raised in Brussels. Lately it seems this line has become a favorite amongst thieves. Why? Probably because a lot of tourists use it to move North-South and it's in the center of Brussels.
I use it from time to time and I have realized that during working/school days (when really crowded) it is not particularly dangerous. But on holiday, there are more tourists = more targets. So I want to help. I understand that when you're old, you're scared and you wouldn't move if someone was trying to rob you. Nevertheless you should read my tips.
- Just this week-end between stops De Brouckere and South station I helped two ladies who were targets of robbers (it was day time). When we alighted from the tram at South station I went to them and told them to really watch their stuff because I saw someone trying to go into their pockets. Later I saw the thieves walk away from them so I hope the ladies are safe...
- A few weeks ago I was walking outside the South Station (Ibis hotel area if you know) and I bumped into a (rather attractive) girl walking alone with a map (tourist alert!). She told me she was lost. I told her straight to not stay here as it was almost sunset, and pointed her to another area.
Simple tips for tourists:
- Thieves usually don't work alone so if you walk in small groups, you're already safer because you outnumber them.
- Look after each other when in groups.
- If you're alone, stay close to people (even if you don't know them) who look like they could defend themselves/you. At least have a man around.
- Watch your surroundings! Know where you are, and where you're going.
- If you're lost, stop, sit and ask in a cafe. In order not to get lost/waste time, prepare your journey in your hotel or prepare at home.
- Look around you and make eye contact. Let thieves know you're not weak. There's less chance a thief would want to rob you if you've spotted them already, isn't it?
- Thieves operating here are generally North African, Central African, gypsies... They are not all thieves and I'm not being racist, I'm a foreigner myself. It's just an observation.
- Blend in! Good tourists don't look like tourists: lose the sunglasses indoors, the Crocs, the sandals, the fanny packs, the size-A2 map.
- Hide valuables: leave passports in hotel safe. Wallet in front pocket for men.
- Don't show off your iPhone 4S in public, someone could snatch it and run away with it (it happened to a friend). You're on holiday, enjoy the city, stop facebooking!
- Be sure no one sees your code when you use your credit card. Use your other hand to hide the number pad.
- Watch your stuff AT ALL TIME: put your bag in front when in public transport.
- In the metro, get a seat or stand against a window, so no one can come behind you.
- Don't get distracted. Pay no attention to shady people asking for help (young girls, etc).
- Ask for help to the right people: in shops, cafes, policemen, info booths, honest-looking people (young students, working men, etc).
- Some honest people like me WILL offer help. There are good people in this world! ;)
So remember, be safe, and don't let thieves ruin your holiday. In general, Brussels is safe, safer than Paris or Barcelona, but thieves are everywhere.
If you need help prior to your trip, ask in a forum with good help (eg Trip Advisor).
We visited Brussels last year, and had a spectacular time. With some careful preparations and the right amount of vigilance, your trip will not be upset.
1. Utilize a money belt or hidden wallet of some kind. You can obtain inexpensive money belts that can be worn under your clothes on Amazon or at a travel store. This prevents you from carrying wallets/purses/etc. which are easy targets. Because you can tuck it into your waistband and place the strap inside your pants, it would be extremely difficult for a pickpocket to gain access.
2. Beware of people trying to be friendly or "help" you out. People in Brussels will not randomly approach you and ask if you need help unless they're up to no good. If someone approaches you offering to help you with directions or luggage, keep walking or call for help. If you are lost or need directions, approach a police officer or a shop owner. You could also try asking the concierge at a hotel if there is one nearby.
3. Avoid well-known scams in stations or on the street. If someone tells you that you have shampoo or bird poop on you, or tries to do a dance with you, call for help or walk away quickly. Avoid making eye contact with someone who is obviously trying to hold your gaze. These are known ways to distract you and open you up to possible pickpocketing.
We completely avoided all stations, and walked or took cabs everywhere. Paying 20EUR for a cab ride is a small price to pay when you consider that the potential alternative is having your cash, cards, and passport stolen and your entire vacation ruined.
This was my 3 rd trip to Brussels, so am quite familiar to the city now, but maybe that's why I fell foul to it. Pickpocketing is published as a problem, and now realise why. Try to avoid going solo, going to cash points on your own, keeping all your valuables in one place one you, spread it about....most important keep your passport unavailable...down your pants if you have to. I fell foul walking from one bar to another ...3 Algerian/ Turk/ romanians( could not define exactly) came passed singing, football and friendly although one Hooke a leg around mine pretending to clown around. Suffice to say my wallet went/ 150 euros and cards. It was only a chap behind shouted thief that I worked out what was happening......I won't go into details but I got it back, and a couple of the pickpockets will have woken up the next morning wishing they had stayed in that night....not recommended, as for the police ....waste of space...
I have been one of victim of pickpocket at Brussels Midi Metro Line 4, a group of man (4-5 persons) look like North-African, with one un-attendance dog brought inside the train. When approaching the next 2 station, a man intentionally drop a coin on my foot, then he hit my foot several time, the man manage to collect back his coin and alight from train. Me alight at next station together with a man (seen like he is the dog owner), furthermore this man smoke inside the train (How can as a EU capital and going to implement 'CO2 Emission' control can allow people smoke inside the train?), then I noticed that my wallet was stolen with ID card, change & credit card, after that my friend also noticed that his passport was stolen also from his shoulder beg, believe that the same group of peoples done this.
I strongly not recommended any visitor to visit Brussels, I would not expect as a EU capital, this thing could be happened easily.
Just returned from Brussels where my passport was stolen when I got out of the metro at Andreessens and was consulting a map for the location of a certain street. An older man approached and offered to help and while we were both focused on my map someone, doubtless an accomplice (who I never saw or felt) stole my passport out of the front pocket of the handbag over my shoulder. Admittedly it should not have been there but I thought passports were going to be checked after I got off the Eurostar and wanted to keep it handy. Once I got to my B&B and discovered the loss, the owner could not have been more helpful. The police came and picked me up and took me to the station where I filed a report. I then spent half a day the next day at the US Embassy getting a temporary passport to get home on. Plus coming back from the Grand Place one afternoon, a Mercedes parked on the street I was staying on had its rear window smashed, and the couple who owned it were busy phoning the police. Standing around in small groups watching them were young men, any of whom could have done the deed.
I found out later that the area of town in which I was staying is somewhat dicey and as a woman traveling alone I felt slightly unnerved the whole time I was in Brussels. I've traveled extensively and I've never felt unsafe anywhere, but I did there. Do NOT accept help from people who offer it - just say "Non, merci" and keep walking. I was told by a local that people in Brussels do not just offer help - you have to ask. I approached a Muslim woman with two children after my encounter with the "gentleman" and she was quite friendly and helpful. However, keep in mind that if anyone approaches YOU they're up to no good.
Be wary in the tourist areas as well...I was in the Galeries off the Grand Place my last evening looking for chocolates to take home and had someone walk past me too closely twice...a pickpocket no doubt. When I was coming back through the Galeries he was still there, strolling along. Soyez prudent! Be careful, and be alert!
I had my wallet lifted at the Brussels Midi metro station while I was helping a kid in a wheelchair. These people have no decency. I'd been warned and took note of a man making very serious eye contact with me while helping the kid down the stairs to a crowded platform. I watched the man move to my right while maintaining eye contact, then we both boarded the subway on different cars. Once my hands were free I checked and found my wallet missing from my left front pants pocket. I was on the platfrom for less than a minute but that was enough. I was told be a resident that staring is a common distraction method. The police were useless and even annoyed that I bothered them.