Saturday, December 22, 2012

How careful should you be going to Belgium

Crime in Belgium

The most common crimes that occur in Belgium are petty thefts - purse snatching and pick pocketing is common in the bigger cities and is usually directed at foreign tourists. Prime pick pocketing areas include busy tourist attractions in all of the major towns as well as train and bus stations. In Brussels particularly notable areas where pick pocketing and snatch crimes occur frequently:
  1. North Station (Noordstation or Gare du Nord),
  2. Central Station (Central Station or Gare Central);
  3. South Station (Zuidstation or Gare du Midi)

Protect yourself against crime

Be especially careful during the tourist season and in high traffic areas such as festivals and other places that attract large crowds. Late night trains where tired passengers often fall asleep are a favorite of pick pockets.The rules are the same in Belgium as elsewhere.

The Don't to avoid

  1. Don't become alone at night in dark places
  2. Don't carry your wallet in the open
  3. Don't carry more cash that you need that day
  4. Don't flaunt your high tech toys such as iPads, iPhones and other snazzy tech tools
  5. Don't tempt the thief with unlocked doors and and expensive items in plain sight
  6. Don't use ATMs in poorly lit areas 

When travelling on public transport be mindful that thieves often loiter in transportation hubs, such as the Metro and train stations, to prey on travellers in unfamiliar surroundings.

Thieves often work together and a common scam is for one thief to ask for directions while their accomplice steals your luggage. They also look out for people who store their luggage in overhead racks, so it is best to avoid these, keeping your luggage with you.

Be alert to fraud

Everyone is at risk of fraud, but travelers especially have to be on guard at all times. As a traveler, you will be pulling out your wallet or credit cards more than the locals and you will be in places where crooks are watching for a victim.

The Do's to avoid fraud

  1. Do be alert when you are getting change for a purchase. Some unscrupulous vendors will try to short change you or even give you worthless currency. Pay attention.
  2. Do make sure the item you are buying is the "Real McCoy" not a cheap knock off that will break within a week.
  3. Do keep your credit /Debit cards in your possession. If you give it to a waiter, do so where you can observe them running the card so that a copy doesn't inadvertently go into their pocket.
  4. Do prefer credit over debit for purchases. If you must give your card to someone like a waiter, use a credit card not a debit card and keep your receipts to compare to actual charges. It is a lot easier to deal with a maxed out credit line than a drained checking account.

In case of emergency

Police emergency in Belgium is 101- ask for Police Fédérale or Federale politie support. In the event of other emergencies, call 112 - the pan-European emergency number. Calls to this number are free from both mobile and fixed-line telephones.

If your passport has been stolen report to the local police immediately and fill in a police report, explaining how and where it happened. You will then need to visit your embassy to arrange for a new passport or temporary identification.

Please watch this video on YouTube about crime in Belgium:
and be careful if you decide to go.

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