Swiss scams. Wait. There's crime in Switzerland?

There is very little serious crime in Switzerland. But what petty crime exists is mainly aimed at tourists and focused on the visitor attractions in major towns.

Most of the crime occurs at festivals and during the peak summer holiday season and includes bag snatching, pick pocketing, thefts from cars that have stopped in traffic and stealing from unattended cars.

Swiss Crime

It is very common for thieves to work in pairs with one distracting the victim whilst the other one steals valuables. Visitors should take care of their belongings and not leave them unattended at any time. There have also been reports of passengers being robbed on night trains and this is another area for visitors to exercise some caution.

Visitors to Geneva - which is rated 'medium' for petty crime by one US government agency - should remain alert for pickpockets in public areas, including Lake Geneva's promenade; the vicinity of the "Jardin Anglais"/Mont Blanc Bridge; large shopping areas (such as Rue de Rive); Plainpalais area (open market); the Cornavin Train Station; Geneva's International Airport, including the train station at the airport; Les Paquis area; public transport (trams, trains, buses); while checking into or out of hotels; and in restaurants.

Common Scams

In general Swiss people are known the world over for their honesty and integrity, however there are a few issues with crime and scams that visitors need to be aware of and exercise vigilance.

The White Van Speaker scam has been seen in the main cities of Bern, Zurich and Geneva. This is where a group of sales people target the public from a white van with an aggressive sales pitch of what turns out to be poorly made imported speakers and audio goods.

Another scam is the bonneteau game otherwise known as shell and pea which is found in Geneva despite being outlawed. This is where a small ball is moved under three boxes or cups and the player must guess which one hides the ball. They place a bet and appear to lose each time. In reality the person with the ball manages to hide it in his hand and not under a box. He makes it reappear when it is the "right" moment. Usually there are a few players around who will be in on the scam and are seen to be betting. Minimum bets start at 100CHF and when the scammers are playing they appear to win which draws in innocent people.

Hooligans & Ultra-nationalists

Football hooliganism exists from time to time in Switzerland particularly in Zurich and Basel. It is not unusual to see police in full riot gear outside football stadiums.

Switzerland does see occaisional crimes of a racist and anti Semitic nature. This includes verbal abuse and damage to property by anti establishment groups.

In general Switzerland is a safe place to visit and tourists just need to exercise caution as in any large city.

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6 Comments

  • Shirley Mann said

    Swiss Sales/Swiss Holidays booked a tour for me. They then canceled Now I cannot get my money back. Avoid this fraudulent company!!

  • Tom said


    I always was told by my grandfather that Switzerland is very safe and that people leave their doors open and no thieves in Switzerland. I grew up knowing that Swiss is reliable, quality and safe. How wrong I was. Then in the past decade or so I have heard thefts are on the increase, but the Swiss quickly blamed them to the immigrants from the Eastern Europe etc. Well, when I had my registered mail with important documents stolen that were sent to Switzerland and when Swiss post did not respond to the enquiry (I was not even compensated) my opinion on Switzerland, which is also called Schweiz, Suisse, Swiss, Svizzera and Helvetia started changing fast. I thought - uncivilized!? Then another mail was stolen. Finally my bag was stolen (never recovered) in Switzerland and now this: Swiss owner of an unnamed (I may disclose it later, if they do not promptly remove my texts from their store's website) collectibles store has been stealing entire texts from my website along with headings and posting on their store website as if its theirs, without any reference and without any request to use those texts. They know permission will not be granted. The texts are written to be used solely on my own website. Of course my website has copyright notices on images and text on its every single page. I think the Swiss used to be a safe country 100 years ago, or was it? Can't trust our money to Swiss banks anymore. Would they care to clean it up or lose their name and perhaps their revenue from banking? When I read that some Swiss bank is now moving their operations to Poland (which is a nice country), which is in the plains, not protected by the mountainous Swiss environment, I think, yes, the Swiss do not care about their image anymore.

  • John Carpenter said

    It looks like Switzerland is more civilized and Christian than North America is. Too bad North America is more like Sodom and Gomorrah and less like Nineveh where the people repented and turned from their evil ways.

  • Deidre Hart said

    Iceland is doing better than North America. They do not listen to the devils of murder. But Donald Trump loves cops killing people and getting away with it. It seems like there are a couple of countries that are putting North America to shame. Even Canada does not impose religion on people by misusing the bible and its verse in the Old Testament that says make a man an offender for a word. That is in Isaiah 29:21. That is something Satan and the devils told the North Americans to use as a weapon of hate against men since nineteen seventy six to twist their words when they compliment ladies bosoms and cleavages and to intentionally get offended on purpose as a excuse to criminalize customers in malls and supermarkets you tell them your breasts and cleavage is lovely. North Americas tyrants are very unchristian when they punish male customers for complimenting cashiers and baristas by casting them out like Satan himself from those places and threatening them with hell if they return which is what prison is. God is going to punish our wicked and devilish governments for committing atrocities against the free people of the world.

  • Earl said

    Governments that criminalize freedom by using laws to enslave, oppress and rule over people God is going to send them to hell who commit sins against the people they rule with cruelty over. God is sending people to hell who call compliments and whistling "sexual" "hassling" and "sidewalk" "hassling". North America should have abolished its police, shut down its prisons and got rid of its army and learned to live as a Christian anarchist country free from being in bondage to devils and Lucifer through its evil government. Another crime lawless criminals hiding behind badges commit is dishonoring those who clean the environment around graveyards. Satan tell them to hassle them with littering tickets, photographing other peoples junk in their pickup truck. Do it next year by yelling at them with a megaphone, snoop around the woods to look at other peoples junk and garbage and to threaten them with jail if they return and further hassle them by following them as they leave the graveyard. Why aren't police in their headquarters arrested and serving life sentences for aiding and abetting two other criminals wearing badges? Why are they using a grave owners permission as a excuse to victimize someone at a graveyard with a littering ticket? Why does North Americas government act like the environment should not be clean but that men at graveyards should have their right to clean the environment violated for just because of some lame excuse they are making to justify committing a crime against them when they are not doing anything wrong? The littering law was not supposed to be enforced incompetently like this where people who clean graveyards are being singled out to be victims of police harassment. And yet everyone else who flicks a cigarette into the parking lot never gets a littering ticket along with those who shatter bottles and pollute the highway with it. Why is that?

  • RITA said

    In general, Swiss people are friendly, nice and honest. During my last visit in November, my purse was stolen in the train. I filed a police report with Geneva Police. Next day, a Swiss lady contacted me that she found a purse in the street, with my id card and contact info inside, all the cash and jewelry is gone. After returning home, I was running my videos taken by family member and one of the videos show the suspect was stealing my purse while it was my right side on the seat and i was looking outside. The thieve looks more like a non Swiss, eastern European and a professional thieve.

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