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Belgian Bar Takes Patrons’ Shoes as Collateral to Prevent Beer Glass Theft

Stealing elaborate beer glasses has become an increasingly popular trend among patrons of Belgian beer bars, so much so that in recent years owners of such establishments have started implementing all sorts of safety measures. For example, one bar in Ghent asks visitors to hand over one of their shoes as collateral.

Belgian beer is famous the world over, so it’s no surprise that tourists flock to beer bars when visiting the European country, but lately many of them have developed a habit of leaving with a souvenir. Philip Maes, owner of The Beer Wall bar in Bruges, said that he loses over 4,000 beer glasses a year, which can get pretty expensive, as many of these glasses are elaborate works of art custom made for his establishment. A beer glass can cost up to 50 euros ($55) so having thousands of them stolen adds up to a significant financial loss. So Maes and other bar owners have implemented security measures to discourage beer glass thefts.

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Last year, we reported that Philip Maes invested about $5,000 into alarm systems for each individual beer glass, to hopefully dissuade patrons from trying to steal them. He estimated that about 80% of would-be thieves would be discouraged by the shame of having the alarm go off as they try to leave, with the other 20% being counted as people who will always find a way of leaving with a souvenir.

Others have opted for a less expensive safety measure. Dulle Griet, a beer bar in Ghent, asks visitors who want to drink a beer there to hand over one of their shoes as collateral. The shoe is hung up in a special basket dangling close to the ceiling, and is returned to the owner when they’re ready to leave. It’s still not a full-proof method, as Alex De Vriendt admits that some clients preferred to leave barefooted but with a beer glass as a souvenir.

 

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“Anyone who drinks our house beer must hand over their shoe,” owner Alex De Vriendt said. “We then put them in a basket that we put up against the ceiling. The basket has now become an attraction, but for us it remains a guarantee. The glasses are quite expensive because we have them made especially for us.”

It’s still not a full-proof method, as De Vriendt admits that some clients preferred to leave barefooted but with a beer glass as a souvenir. Still as long as patrons don’t try to come into his bar barefoot, he accepts any kind of shoe as collateral.

 

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“We actually accept all kinds of shoes, but we realise that a flip-flop is not as valuable as the beer glass,” he said.

To be fair, Belgian beer glasses are really nice, especially the ones that come with custom made wooden stalls to keep them upright, but that certainly doesn’t excuse stealing. Just buy one from the souvenir shop if you like them that much.

 

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How do they steal those giant things, though? Like where do you even conceal something like that in the summer?

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