Switzerland is a very safe country to live in or visit. Unlike many other European countries, violent crime including assault and robbery is virtually unheard of in Switzerland. The rare cases of violent crime that do occur, often involve foreigners who are living in Switzerland.
Nevertheless, petty crime such as pick pocketing is known to occur sometimes in Switzerland. Such petty crime is usually directed at foreign tourists in Switzerland so prime pick pocketing areas include busy tourist attractions in all of the major towns of Switzerland including Zurich, Geneva and Basel.
Such petty crime is especially likely during the peak tourist seasons. Late night trains where tired passengers often fall asleep are also sometimes targeted by pick pockets in Switzerland. In addition, festivals in Switzerland that are known to attract large numbers of visitors from abroad are also targeted by pick pockets in Switzerland.
Crime and drugs in Switzerland
All class A hard drugs including heroin and cocaine are completely illegal in Switzerland and being caught either in possession of these drugs or selling them holds stiff penalties almost certainly including prison time in Switzerland.
The police attitude towards softer drugs such as hashish and cannabis is more ambiguous. While possessing or selling these drugs is technically a crime, police often turn a blind eye to discreet use of such drugs and prosecution for being in possession of small quantities of these drugs is not likely.
Crime and police in Switzerland
The emergency telephone number in Switzerland to be called in order to report all crimes is 117. Police in Switzerland are either federal or local. Swiss federal police are plain clothed officers and only become involved in serious crimes that go beyond canton level in Switzerland.
Victims of crime in Switzerland are far more likely to come into contact with the local canton police who deal with the majority of police issues locally.
Crime and police abuse in Switzerland
There have been reports over the years of local canton police officers behaving harshly with foreigners in Switzerland unable to produce identity papers, so it’s always advisable to have your passport with you when walking around Switzerland.
Traffic crime in Switzerland is dealt with by the canton traffic police and usually incurs an immediate fine, which if paid on the spot should be the end of the matter. Otherwise you may have to accompany the police down to the local police station in Switzerland.