I was coming from the airport, planning on going to Maastricht ( I am a student at Maastricht University). I thought of taking the train, I asked for a schedule (in the Netherlands, when asked for a train schedule, the ticket officers will print out a schedule), but the guy said just one just one stop.. well i took his advice and got out at Brussels Nord.... I was hanging around at the platform trying to figure how to drag my big suitcase downstairs.. there was only this little stairs in front of me. So I walked further and I found big stairs.. While I was coming down I was approached by a guy, he said that there was shampoo at the back of my jacket. He was speaking French, I couldn't understand what he was saying, all i understood was shampoo.. i was distracted and tired, was trying to confront this guy.. suddenly another guy came out- out of nowhere- took my laptop bag, this other guy sprayed shampoo on my eyes! I lost basically my laptop, my wallet, my passport, resident permit.. just everything! I could not believe that it happened to me.. it was at 9 :40 AM!!! I panicked.. I kept on bouncing back and forth.. there was only two securities at Brussels North station just 2!!! they told me to go to Midi.. but when I reported to the police, I was shouted at and the policeman seemed annoyed unbelievable! I was robbed and this policemen seemed to care less... !!! I asked politely whether i could borrow 5 euro.. and he just said NO.. ! Luckily, I had my ticket to Maastricht in my jacket. I felt lost and just couldnt really describe what happened to me that day. Since the day I got robbed, I never step foot in Brussels..... I didnt like the way the securities, and the policeman were treating me. I called several times whether they found my stuff, they told me that when things get stolen they would be returned to the respective embassy! how would they know if that is my stuff!! do they just assume that is my things and send it to the Indonesian embassy...
My advice to those who are travelling to Brussels and other places in Europe..
Be aware of Pickpockets.. and keep an eye on your luggages, dont get distracted.. pickpockets and luggage theft do not only happen at night, but it could also happen in the morning or midday.....
Beware of people loitering around the square and offering to take a photo of you with your camera - especially if you are alone. You might lose it.
There are of course lots of tourists as well as locals who are there for legitimate business, but you should be aware.
Hey, I can say all the warnings in the above comments are right. Yesterday my bag was stolen in Brussels Central while taking a picture in a photo cabin. Now I was very lucky as nor my wallet nor my mobile were inside the bag. Event though it still was a bad thing: my favourite bag, my keys, a sweater, a jacket and my favourite scarf. Anyhow, I gave an item description at lost & found in brussels central and afterwards I went looking around in the neighbourhoud of the station. Because I guess if they don't find money they throw away the rest. And I found my bag in the park @ 'Kunstberg'. The bag, the keys, and a bit further the sweater also but apparently they took my jacket and the scarf :-( Don't understand it. Or maybe those are somewhere else lost in Brussels now. Anyhow it was a lesson again for me to be attentive and it could have ended much worse. So certainly check out as much places as you can after the stole something!
By the way, I went to Brussels Midi to the 'lost & found' and the guy working there was absolutely horrible!!! The wrong guy at the wrong place! Very unfriendly, telling me he couldn't do anything and that I didn't have to hope to find something back! Almost didn't give me a paper to make an item description... Unbelievable...
I read all the previous warnings, but i feel you can not be warned enough. I was in the Brussels DMV(getting car plates) and in the space of 2 minutes had my mobile stollen out of my pocket. There are cameras in there and whoever took did it fast and slick enough that there is nothing obvious on the video! They are professionals here and you will not feel a thing.
My friend had her purse taken off her childs stroller after getting off the train in Midi.
I would highly suggest using Brussels North station if possible. It is usually less crowded and easier to navigate.
Good luck to all!
The Police are working undercover to fish out Pickpockets throughout the Christmas Markets. I was witness to them 'lifting' one who was frog marched to their van where he was soon whisked away.
Top tips: Put your wallet in a zipped pocket preferably inside your jacket.
: Keep Handbags close and closed.
: Keep your eyes open if the Pickpocket see's you are watching out he will move onto someone less vigilant.
Also noted kids handing over Cellphones to a character, maybe it was their dad, but why would he take the SIM card out in the middle of a crowded market?
Be carefull but not everyone is a "Tea Leaf!" so enjoy as well.
Brussels may not be a big city but you need to pay attention as you would in any city: while muggings are rare, having your purse lifted is not at all uncommon. Be careful on the metro and also in shops with narrow aisles - try not to leave a purse (wallet) on top of a bag, even if it is zipped, it would be safer in your jacket pocket (not a back jeans pocket, of course!).
I read all the tips above but you can't be warned too many times. A big gang of pickpockets operates in Brussels Midi. Please be very careful with your luggage don't leave it out of sight for one moment and be alert when a stranger asks you for something, its often a scam to distract you. I work at the station and its terrible to see how many thefts happen every single day. And PLEASE if you really have to carry a lot of cash around, carry it on your body and not in your handluggage, same thing for your passport. It happens in the station on the platforms and even in the train.
We were in Brussels Sunday, June 26, 2005, and 3 punk kids asked my husband a question, distracting him from his luggage and another one ran up, grabbed his rolling bag with tote attached and was gone.
The police were extremely unconcerned. While filing our report, 2 other people came in with the exact same story, and all within 15 minutes.
I think the biggest problem, except lack of security, are the type of escalators-like a moving sidewalks, but inclined to the next floor, so rolling luggage is fast to move, unlike taking it up regular escalator or stairs. We were told theyt go up, then down to the subway and gone.
My advice is: Don't take your hands off your luggage for a second, keep personal items on you, or better yet, avoid Brussels. We had travelled from Stockholm, thru Denmark, and Germany on the trains and no other threats whatsoever.
(There are no security cameras in the station and the man in Lost and Found said it "happens all the time")
The Best pickpockets are in Belgium ;) And the best policeman for it too. I never been robbed or approched. Watch your bag as in any other city. Maybe being more careful in big areas like the train station or metro would be a good idea.
Like in every (OK, almost every) European touristy city be aware of pickpockets in Brussels - especially watch your properties, esp. passport, bank cards and cash at crowded places.
I didn't see any pickpockets in Brussels :-) and I thought that it was very safe place for visitors
Before you leave:
1. Write down (or/and put into your cell phone memory card) emergency numbers to financial institutions that issued your cards to be always ready to call them immediately when you lose your cards, make sure that the numbers work well from Brussels and store them at seperate, secure place;
2. Scan key pages (with your photo, personal dates, visa) of your passport/identity card and/or driving licence ; store them at secure and seperate place,
3. Lower your daily limits on your cards either for ATM cash and for electronic transactions (stores, restaurants etc.) to needed lever. Check whether you can change it (in emergency) by phone while you are in Brussels. Check whether your bank is responsible for illegal transactions made with your card (by a theft) before you report the loss of a card - buy such option (insurance) if possible,
4. Remember your cards' PIN numbers (if possible hehe, if not - write them down and store far away from your cards in secure place, better use your own code - multiply or divide numbers or so).
When you are in Brussels:
1. ALWAYS keep your cash and credit/debit cards close to your body (comfortable belts or any very unusual place for your purse or wallet recommended :-),
2. never carry all of your cash or cards/traveller's cheques at one place,
3. never, never carry with you your PIN numbers written down, esp. with your credit cards,
4. have your card ready - avoid having to go through your wallet or purse to find your card - and make sure that nobody can see you entering your PIN or transaction amount! You must always see when your card is when you pay in a store, restaurant etc.
Brussels (centre) is one of the safest cities in Europe. Crime is generally property-related and non-violent. However, as in almost any city this size, petty theft is a problem. Travellers should be especially vigilant at crowded tourist attractions and when using the Metro system; pickpockets are frequent at the Brouckere and Rogier stations. At night, take common sense precautions and steer clear of the Botanical Gardens and the Westward Arc between Midi and North train stations. Auto theft/break-ins are common. Do not leave valuables in automobiles and use parking garages when possible.
As in all major cities pickpockets are active at Brussels.
Be aware they operate in busy spots in and around stations and at the center city attractions (like Manneken Pis).
Beware of Pickpockets . My father on his European trip, had his wallet taken while wandering around with his tour group in Brussels.