Crime in Belgium - A Quick Guide For Travelers

Belgium is generally a safe place for travels, however it has its share of crime like any other destination. Find out how to stay safe while traveling with these tips.

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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.

Crime Hotspots in Belgium

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 and English.

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.

Belgian Public Transport Safety

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.

Car Theft in Belgium

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.

Terrorism in Belgium

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.

Emergency Numbers in Belgium

The official emergency number is 112. With this number, you can reach all emergency services and then you will be re-directed to the department you require: police, ambulance or fire brigade.

Get a travel insurance quote for Belgium

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27 Comments

  • Dr Papri said

    Be Aware of Mcdonad's.....We visited Brussels on 05 March 2015. In front of CCTV a thief taken our bag while we were busy with taking burger. We lost 15000 dollars. Macdonals authority did not do anything in that incidence. shame on them .. even police didnt want to take the report....Unfortunately. we feel proud of europe. I think it is disgusting. They cannot give security to tourist. Shame on them. The behavior of police and Macdonad's authority were suspicious and I am sure that they are in connection with this thief case. So please do not visit Brussels unless it is required urgently. Or take your money and passport in such a place inside your body so that no body can take without killing you. Thanks

  • Sofie said

    They were not in connection they were probably just lazy. Also, there isn't much they can do. It sucks but its true. Brussels is worth visiting, you just have to be smart and try not to look like a tourist.

  • Steve said

    My first visit to Brussels was also a miserable one. My car was broken into during the day and items stolen. Locals said it was my fault for leaving something in the car , really? How to take a snowboard around the market ? Police were confusing and different officers told me different rules for reporting - lazy I think :-(( sorry but I will never return here .

  • Kev MacDougall said

    Stayed in the centre with friends one weekend. During the day it was pleasant enough. North African street gangs all over and a few lads got pickpocketed by them. I wouldn't go back.

  • dr khan said

    Brussels has become worse than Paris and Barcelona in terms of petty crimes against tourist. Locals like to blame muslim and african immigrants but most crimes are committed by local white skinned people to feed their drug habit.

  • Ellen said

    Not safe

  • Jamie said

    I work in Brussels and live in Uccle as expat.
    It is a dangerous area, I got (during >3 years of living here):
    > Car broke twice while parking on street during night;
    > A knock on the door by complete strangers trying to check if anyone is in;
    > Someone tried to check if my door was open by turning the door knob (for burglary)
    > Police investigation on a neighbour woman's 'accident' - fell on her balcony and dead
    > Police cars siren on average once per hour during daylight, or even midnight since Paris attack
    > Constant strike, strike on public transportations
    > Polices are overloaded hence less care on small crimes like car-breaking

  • Raman said

    Hi ,

    Can any one let me know at present in June 2016 is it safe to work in Belgium , thanks

  • Peter said

    I visit Brussels often and have never been subjected to any theft or incident. Just keep your phone and wallet in your pockets and use common sense.

  • Satarupa said

    I was travelling on flix bus from London to Rotterdam and had a transfer is Anterwerp. When I got down from the bus my luggage was no longer there in the bus carrier.. it was stolen and no one knew where it was.. it is a place of thieves. Please be very careful.

  • Kapil said

    I (male, 30 years old) was walking around in Brussels Stalingrad area as I had some time before catching a bus at about 11pm from by the Midi station. There was this north african guy came to me and asked if I liked football. Then he tried to show me how to tackle by trying forcing his leg between my legs. I felt uncomfortable and I thought maybe he is not mentally right. I started walking in opposite direction and he started doing the same thing once more before started walking away. As I was walking away, I noticed he was talking to some other guy and they looked like mates. Then the same guy started running behind me and I was kind of ignoring him until he showed my phone in his hand. Yes, he distracted me by tacking, put his hands in my front pockets and took my phone away. I don't know what made him to bring it back to me but i did not feel happy even though I had the phone back. Take care in Brussels. Lots of smart thieves around!

  • S said

    Beware of thieves inside restaurants in Brussels central locations. One method is to send the innocent looking female flower sellers inside restsurants , she will scan abd see where is the oppurtunity such as your cell phones on table, or cameras or your purse hanging back or side your chair, and then her associate comes directly to that table, wuth asking you buy neespsper, puts newspaper on top of your device and dnaches it right in front of your eyes! Outside he passes it yo another guy and they dissapear. Restaurang owners take no attention or responsibility . They might advise you yo lie about insident when reporting to police , telling you tosay your property was stolen on street so ur indurance would pay. Dont! They just want to avoid investigation.

  • Tommy Dang said

    You would think when you put your luggage inside the bus and workers and passengers are around the area that they would see something and that it would safely there with everyone elses luggage, but unfortunately my luggage was stolen from inside the bus and found halfway making my way to London

    SO WARNING:
    Be careful at GARE DU NORD BUS STATION and not be naive about my unfortunate lost
    ALSO Brussels Police do not care to help and report the crime and especially FlixBus who were responsible for the lost and do not care my lost (Also the workers laughed at my face when I asked what have happen to my bag....)

    Be careful and trust no one

  • Marc said

    I studied for 3 years in the south of Belgium. Nothing bad happened to me (I was in a small city) but I've heard many stories of girls raped, guys beaten up, people can also insult you for no reason (they call women sluts and they call men gays for absolutely no reasons). Most of my Belgian friends there had their house robbed at least once, some of them had it robbed more than 5 times in the last decade. The police there is just useless. They care in cases of murder and rape but they will never care if someone beats you up or breaks into your house. People will always tell you: if you get into trouble, do not waste time reporting the crime cause the police will never care. I think Belgium has low crime records because 90% of crimes are not reported. Belgium has a big history of crime and people there just seem to have accepted it.

  • Unhappy said

    On a Brussels street yesterday just a couple blocks from the Mercure a young man asked directions then offered Hi-5 as thank you (we thought). He then tackled my husband in the same manner as Kapil described above. He took my husband down to the sidewalk and we were unable to fight him off. He was able to remove my husbands watch and gold chain as well as the bottle of wine we had just purchased, before running away. Do not wear any jewelry. I could not believe someone would attack my husband like that. I wish I had checked this blog beforehand. Thankful only a few cuts and scratches.

  • Unhappy Brussels visitor said

    Just as I was just to enter my hotel a white french male, 6 foot maybe taller. Wraps his leg around you and steals my phone from my behind and runs away. Police has still not caught this theft. Near Brussels - Avenue de Stalingrad (close to Gare du Midi) - 7:30pm. An older man who stands watching is also suspected as an accomplice he selects the target while seeming he is busy. Do be careful, do be vigilante. These low life scums are after your belongings no matter what.

  • Utpal said

    Me & my cousin started our euro tour with brussels as our first stop . It took just 30 mins to lose all we had. Some guys broke into our car and stole all including passports and other travel documents. We were left there stranded with nothing but broken car for two days. Now because of these assholes , our complete 1 month vacation is over in a day. We now have no visa and we will have to go back as earliest. Police is brussels are just as same as thieves, because no respect and compassion towards tourists. People say as a tourist onw needs to be careful, well if someone steals at gun point or has balls to steal through 15mm glass window , i say " please don't go to Brussels ".

  • K.Maths. said

    We were travelling from Amsterdam to Luxembourg and had 2 hand baggages and three strolleys.We had to switch from Thalys to the local train at Brussels Midi. On getting into the train we kept the strolleys near us as they were heavy to put on overhead rack and put two hang baggages just above us.Since we were four persons we kept a watch on all the bags. But short of Brussels Schuman a young boy came in with a Midi Ticket and started asking something in the local language ,we had heard of the distractions thieves create and we protecting our purses and pockets. Just then he threw his mobile down and was reassembling it at our feet. We all looked down at him and in that time his accomplice picked the overhead luggage and ran out of the train ,this boy also followed and in a split second they were out of the train and the doors closed. The railway authorities on the train said that there is no Railway police till Brussels Namur which is half an hour away. The police and authorities are aware of the robberies in this sector and not bothered.
    Would advise tourists not to keep anything overhead and if you can avoid it ,dont take the local trains. The Thalys and TGV are the safe option as they have police on board and the stops are few. Chain your luggage together if possible.

  • Bert G said

    As written a few times already, be aware when somebody stops you and asks for directions. I've been living in Brussels for some time now and have been pickpocketed once. The police is doing a lot though to prevent these petty crimes, but there are simply too many robbers around.

    Don't keep your wallet in your backside pocket.
    Don't keep cash around.
    Always stay with your belongings.
    Keep your passport and traveling documents separate.

  • Andy said

    I had my cycle stolen in broad daylight, amidst tourists, at the citadel in Namur. The thieves cut the security wire on my bike, but left my wife's as it was secured with chain rather than wire. The bike was of little value, the lights did not work and the brakes were worn - so good luck to whoever was so desperate. The walk down to the police station was quite fun, as was the trip to Decathlon to get a better bike and a heavy duty lock.

  • James said

    Inner & central Brussels has become increasingly dirty and poorer in the 13 years I've been visiting the city. On the first visit in April 2004 as an 18 yr old solo traveller I found Brussels and the whole of Belgium to be very impressively clean, modern and well-functioning. Ironically it was also during this first visit to Bxl that I was targetted by three immigrant youths at Avenue de Stalingrad who pulled a small knife out in an attempt to steal my travel holdall (and who luckily I out-ran!), but really I was very naive on this occasion because it was 03:00 in the morning and I was out on the deserted streets alone with no money left for a hotel room before my train booking the next day. Everything else in 2004 was a great experience, and it is since that time I've observed the sense of safety and wellbeing in Brussels decline. The country's problems do need to be acknowledged and addressed. All this being said, I will never stop visiting this fascinating city and region :–)

  • Anthony Verlee said

    As a Belgian citizen (living close to Bruges), I think all European capitals are having problems like this with pickpockets and stuff like this, but if you want to see nice things with less criminality, go to cities like Antwerp, Ghent, Hasselt and Bruges. People there are more friendly, good police, nice restaurants and clubs, a lot of young children going to school there also. And good public transport with bus and trams in the city (no metros). Bruges and Ghent are having a lot of tourists from China, Japan and England. Bruges count maybe 120000 citizens, so it's nice to go there because u'll feel more confident as a tourist there.
    Since my birth, i've never had problems, not for my money, not for my iPhone, for nothing... It's good that you try to look as a citizen and not as a tourist. Place your money somewhere else than in your wallet, wear a copy of your passport and leave the real one in your hotel, this is the best option. Brussels is the capital of the EU, what makes that criminals knows that Brussels will have a lot of victims to catch their stuff.
    And of course the police in Brussels is now more worried about new terrorist attacks than somebody's bike or wallet that has been stolen. They cannot find everybody's phone back because this is just happening too much.
    Cities like Namur, Liège and Mons, you can leave them, because this is the Wallonian part of Belgium. They are not as good employed than Flanders, what makes them more vulnerable to do criminal facts.

  • John yun said

    It's the worst experience . 1 hour after got in Brussels and my wallet was stolen while walking on the street. I was approached by two male younger men and they did some strange talks and few minutes late I found my wallet was gone. There were more than 1200 euros and credit cards and driver license. I can't wait to leave this thief place.

  • X said

    This site is removing comments about crime in Belgium, so the picture painted here is better than it is in reality.

  • Rahul said

    I had a bad experience as well that happened near Rogier Metro station. I was walking with my wife around 5 PM after did some shopping and couples of guys approached me and give me a good smile. Since I haven’t had any bad experience living in Brussels for almost an year I thought it would be nice to meet new people and therefore I smiled at them and one of those guys gave me a Hi-5 and then hold my hand and did some trick with his leg on to my right leg while he was holding my left hand. I felt so discomfort and when I tried to leave him, he again hold my hand and did the trick again as if he was asking me to do something funny. But I didn’t realise he was able to took my watch by this time and I came to know only after my wife asked me to check my valuables. Luckily I kept my mobile and wallet in my front pocket and there was no injuries. I wish I wouldn’t had smiled at those people. Brussels is a nice place to live, but we should always be alert and wary when someone approaches us with bad intentions.

  • Scape said

    Be wary of people being friendly. They will try and lure you somewhere unsafe. Ruined the experience. Guess Brussels is a daytime tourist destination.

  • Sad Visitor said

    After months of planning, we arrived Brussels full of excitement and we really look forward to the visit. Very unfortunately, just after a few hours of arrival and checking into an apartment, located in middle of the City, one of members was viciously attacked while pushing a disabled person on wheelchair. A group of young men robbed him of his valuables and ran off all in full view of so many people on the busy street. No one came to our assistance. We could not imagine such a thing could have happened to us. It was really a scary experience. It was traumatic that immediately we decided to pack up and fly home. We spent so much money with all our accommodations paid for only to find how unsafe Brussels is. What a shame for this City.

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