Public service campaign launched to raise awareness about theft
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Switzerland’s reputation as a safe country is true, relatively speaking, but this doesn’t mean there are no thefts or that you can forget about taking basic precautions against pickpockets and scams. Geneva alone reported more than 5,000 pickpocketing cases in 2014 – despite a significant drop in the crime rate for this.
Video source: Vaud Police
Police in French-speaking cantons, Bern and Ticino are launching a prevention campaign today to remind the public that using common sense can drive down the number of crimes of this sort.
Proof lies in the 2014 statistics. Property theft was down by 10 percent in 2014 in canton Vaud, with similar drops elsewhere; it accounts for 71.3% of penal crimes in the canton, but has been falling since 2011, thanks in part to prevention campaigns.
Pickpocketing down 25% in 1 year in Vaud
“The pressure being put on thieves is showing results, with pickpocketing down by 25% and scam thefts down by 30% last year, thanks to coordinated efforts between cantonal and communal police,” notes Vaud in a press release. The canton had one of the most impressive drops, but both types of crime down in all the cantons with large cities.
Geneva thefts fall, but still more than 5,000 pockets picked!
Geneva’s situation is special, as a regular target for thieves because of the large number of often-unsuspecting foreign visitors. A major international airport, major European rail line and more than 400 non-governmental organizations with frequent international visitors contribute to the problem.
Pickpocketing (vol àla tire) was down by 9 percent in 2014, compared to the previous year, and it has fallen a significant 31 percent in four years after peaking in 2011. But 5,245 cases were nevertheless reported last year, and the canton’s crime rate for pickpockets is well over double that for other cantons with urban areas. In fairness, Geneva’s urban centre is a larger part of the canton.
The situation is similar for scams, with Geneva’s crime rate higher than elsewhere, but with crime falling as prevention campaigns pay off.
Pay attention, say police
Police in Vaud have issued video clips in English that GenevaLunch.com will be publishing as a public service during May, for foreigners throughout the country.
Know how thieves operate, for a start, say police:
“Thieves who use scams operate by distracting their victims in order to carry out a robbery. There is no limit to their imagination, but the most common methods are still tricking motorists (one thief distracts the driver while the other reaches into the car), stealing from behind seated clients in outdoor cafés and restaurants, football “players”, selling fake goods in the street or fake services at your door.
Pickpockets operate mainly in public transport systems or around shopping centres, particularly during peak travel times. They tend to work in organized teams, stealing from people who are getting on or off buses, trams and trains. They sometimes encircle their targets before robbing them. In the majority of cases, the victim is not even aware of being robbed, or realizes it too late.”
Basic precautions to take, to keep your possessions safe
If you are approached in the street, while using public transport or someone comes to your door, react sensibly
- Don’t let yourself be distracted
- Don’t carry more money than is necessary
- Put your wallet in a closed pocket, preferably on the inside of your jacket
- Keep a close eye continually on your bag or backpack
- Watch out, if anyone asks for money or directions
- In parking lots, if someone stops you for any reason and you get out of your car, lock it, even if you’re only moving a metre or two away
- Never let strangers into your home