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In Belgium, crime rates tend to be higher in the bigger cities than in rural areas, but serious crime in Brussels is low. However, petty crimes such as muggings, bag snatching, and pickpocketing are common in tourist areas, so it's important to use common sense when you're out and about.
If you find yourself off the chocolate-beer-fries trail, make sure you know which parts of town to avoid, particularly at night.
In Brussels, be wary in Schaerbeek, Brussels North, Brussels Center, Molenbeek and Anderlecht.
There have been reports of visitors being threatened with violence in the popular Parc de Bruxelles/Warandepark, between the Royal Palace and Belgian Parliament (known as Parc Royale). If you are robbed in this part of town, there is a police station next to the gate in front of the Belgian Parliament, on the right side as you leave the park. Most of the policemen here speak French, Dutch
In Antwerp, avoid the areas around the port and docks. The cities of Bruges and Ghent are also petty crime hotspots.
Industrial cities like Liege and Charleroi near Brussels, where some of the low-cost carriers land, have some of the highest crime rates in Belgium. There's little reason for you to go into these cities, but if you do keep an eye on your belongings and stick to well-lit, crowded areas.
One of the most convenient ways to get to and around Belgium is by train, so you're likely to spend a fair bit of time in its train stations. Gadgets like cell phones, iPods and laptops are lifesavers on long journeys but they can also make you a target for theft, so never leave your belongings unattended. It's also advisable not to carry too much cash.
This is particularly the case at major stations like the North Station (Bruxelles-Nord or Brussel-Noord), Central Station (Bruxelles-Central or Brussel-Centraal) and the South Station (Bruxelles-Midi or Brussel-Zuid), which is the primary international train hub and Eurostar terminal. These stations are not located in the nicest parts of town, so avoid hanging around them at night, especially if you're on your own.
Once your train arrives, you may be ready to jump on and zone out but keep an eye on your belongings. Pickpockets have been reported to operate on international trains, mainly on the Paris-Brussels and Amsterdam-Brussels routes.
Avoid placing bags in the overhead compartments where thieves can easily grab them when you're not looking. There have also been reports of bags being stolen from the racks at the end of carriages, normally just before the doors close for the train to depart.
Petty crime is also common around the Grand Place (Grote Markets) and on the metro, buses, trams and in shops, with many thieves looking for small, high-value items like cell phones and iPods.
Professional thieves often work in teams of two or three and use a range of techniques to distract their victims such as asking for directions, spilling food or drink, or telling them someone has spilled something on their clothes. There have also been reports of small groups of young men preying on tired and bewildered tourists in metro stations, particularly at night.
An increasing problem, particularly in Brussels, is theft from moving or parked cars. Thieves position themselves at traffic lights or pull up on motorbikes, to scan for valuables in stopped cars. If they see a handbag, wallet or other valuable items, they'll smash the window or reach in through the open window and steal it in seconds.
It's a good idea to hide your valuables out of sight and drive with the windows closed and doors locked.
To avoid theft while your car is unattended, park in secure areas or parking garages where possible.
Sadly, terrorism has reared its ugly head in Belgium, particularly in the past two years.
Generally, Belgium is a safe place to travel however it pays to be alert. International organizations including NATO and the EU have their headquarters in Brussels, so it may be particularly vulnerable to politically motivated terror attacks.
While traveling in Belgium, you are legally required to carry identification at all times. There are increased security checks in place at international airports and major train stations due to previous terror-related incidents.
Find about the latest travel warnings for Belgium here.
The official emergency number is 112, where you can reach all emergency services and then you will be re-directed to the department you require: police, ambulance or fire brigade.
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How are coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions affecting travel to Belgium? Get the latest on quarantine, lockdown and the status of borders.
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