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.
Beware of Pickpockets . My father on his European trip, had his wallet taken while wandering around with his tour group in Brussels.