Montgomery District Police published last week on their Facebook page a list of secret symbols thought to be used by prospective burglars. Although it is difficult to be certain of the true accuracy of this list, police have nevertheless asked residents across Brussels to remain vigilant after one of the symbols was found to be marked in front of the house of a Montgomery dwelling.
“We received a message from a resident who saw a sign in front of her house and we wanted to share that information with people who follow our Facebook page,” said the head of the Montgomery District Police, Michaël Jonniaux. “We must and will remain constantly vigilant in our fight against burglary.”
He added: “The list consists of symbols that are thought to be used by people engaged mainly in burglary ‘reconnaissance’ (i.e. who study a house prior to a burglary actually taking place). They are thought to indicate, for instance, whether the dwelling is occupied, whether its occupant lives alone, whether he or she is old, whether he or she has a pet, whether there’s money inside, whether there’s an alarm system, and other things besides. It’s also possible that some of the symbols are used to indicate the best time of day to perform a burglary.”
Mr Jonniaux was, however, keen to stress that the police are at this point far from certain of the meaning of all of these symbols, and that moreover it is unlikely that such a list is currently used by all burglars in Brussels or even those based around Montgomery.
“This list of symbols is merely one of many possible lists,” he insisted. “We do not intend to suggest that it’s the one that is always used by every single burglar. However, these are the sorts of symbols that can sometimes be placed in front of homes, whether that be on the pavement or in the immediate vicinity of places of residence.”
What should I do if I see one of these symbols?
If you see one of these symbols or observe anything even remotely resembling them, the police strongly advise you to: (a) notify the police immediately by taking a photo of the sign and sending it to them, and (b) notify the dweller and/or remove the symbol yourself.
The police are also keen to remind everyone that suspicious behaviour of all kinds should be reported: an unknown person suspiciously roaming the neighbourhood, who is (e.g.) observing houses and taking pictures and notes, should be reported immediately to the police.
Apartments, as well as houses, have also been targeted by burglars: around Montgomery, 30% of all burglaries are conducted in apartments. The police have therefore urged people to remain vigilant in the presence of an unfamiliar face in an apartment lobby or communal space, and stress that one should not hesitate to ask such a person what he or she is doing and/or refuse him or her entry to the building if one is in any doubt as to his or her identity.