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.
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.
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.
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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