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Police in Ixelles report increase in pickpocketing

A pickpocket lifts a wallet from an unsuspecting victim (Google images)
05:16 11/02/2022

Police officers specialised in arresting pickpockets in the Brussels-Ixelles area made 304 arrests in 2021. "Despite the health crisis, we have seen an increase in pickpocketing, sometimes with violence," a spokesperson for the police zone said.

"In 2021, the specialist officers drew up a total of 475 reports and made 304 arrests,” the spokesperson added. “64 suspects were referred to the prosecutor's office while 14 arrest warrants were issued by an investigating judge." A total of €14,725, found on the arrested perpetrators, could be returned to the various victims.

"However, pickpockets do not only steal money: many mobile phones, four bicycles, clothes worth €8,436 and even a luxury watch worth €25,000 have been returned to their owners."

The last operation of undercover specialist officers took place on Tuesday when four suspects of pickpocketing were arrested, all on the Rue Neuve.

"The first person was arrested when one of the officers recognised a suspect of a pickpocket committed at the end of January, during which a lady had her smartphone stolen,” explained the spokesperson. “Analysis of the camera footage had led to a detailed description of two suspects. One of them was recognised on Rue Neuve. He is staying illegally and has been ordered to leave the country. He was released after his hearing."

Shortly after, officers arrested three other suspects of pickpocketing. “An individual had come to the police station to file a complaint about the theft of his mobile phone, which, according to the GPS signal, was still on Rue Neuve,” said the spokesperson.

“Inspectors quickly went to the scene and shortly after saw three suspects who appeared to be looking for new victims. They decided to follow the suspects and after witnessing another pickpocketing, the officers decided to intervene. The three suspects were arrested, and the two victims were able to retrieve their mobile phones. After a hearing, the three suspects were released."

Written by Nick Amies