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globe6 Switzerland Crime and Safety Report - Geneva 

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

Geneva, Switzerland

Crime Threats

The State Department rates non-residential street crime for Geneva as Medium. 

According to 2012 statistics for Geneva, there was a general decrease in overall crime. The number of reported burglaries decreased from 8,098 in 2011 to 7,322. Reported theft without violence also decreased from 895 in 2011 to 769 in 2012, and pickpocketing fell by five percent to 7,277. The number of thefts from vehicles dropped from 4,687 to 3,307 for 2012.

According to 2012 statistics for the Canton of Vaud, there was a significant increase of reported in crime. The number of reported burglaries increased by more than 3,000 from 8,395 in 2011 to 12,500 in 2012. Reported pickpocketing or theft without violence also rose from 2,543 in 2011 to 3,843 in 2012. The Canton of Vaud also saw a rise in the number of thefts from vehicles from 4,217 to 6,251 in 2012.  

Visitors to Geneva are reminded that they should remain particularly alert for pickpockets, confidence scams, and other attempts to obtain a wallet or purse in the following public areas:

- Lake Geneva's promenade;

- 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 transportation (trams, trains, buses);

- While checking into or out of hotels

- Restaurants.

Switzerland still faces the challenge of focusing on and directing efforts against the threat of organized crime. There is increasing evidence of links between these groups and other areas of crime such as petty crime. According to police publications, Switzerland has affiliates of organized crime from:

- Italy, particularly in money laundering;

- Southeast Europe (Macedonia, Albania, and Kosovo), particularly in trafficking cocaine; laundering money, trafficking of migrants, extortion and property crimes;

- Russia, particularly in money laundering, break-ins and thefts;

- China, particularly in extortion, trafficking of migrants, blackmail, credit cards, drugs, arms, prostitution, and illegal gambling; and

- West and North Africa, particularly false documents, trafficking of cocaine and fraud.

According to the 2011 annual report of the Federal Police, “developments…in the field of terrorism, organized (sic) crime and human trafficking show that the challenges facing the Federal Office of Police (fedpol) remain considerable. Investigating cybercrime is becoming increasingly important too: effective action is vital to…investigating cases of incitement over the Internet to violence and of online radicalization (sic)”. (Note: there was no update provided regarding international or transnational terrorism in the 2012 Federal Police statistics.)

Overall Road Safety Situation 

Switzerland has a lot to offer the motorist, a quiet and well maintained network of roads that go through some of the most fascinating scenery. Since Switzerland has four official languages, travelers should be prepared for the signage to switch languages.

Highways are toll roads. It is necessary to purchase an annual "vignette," which is affixed to the inside of your windshield. A vignette costs 40 Swiss Francs and can be purchased from a gas station, post office, or at any vehicle border crossing.

Traffic laws are strictly enforced, and the Swiss police can impose on-the-spot fines and for grievous violations, up to 10 percent of the driver’s salary. The maximum speed limit (if not posted) is: highway 120 km/h; open road 80 km/h; in town 50 km/h; and in some residential areas 30 km/h.

The minimum driving age is 18. It is obligatory for vehicles to have third party insurance. It is compulsory for all occupants to wear safety belts. When driving in Geneva, trams, police vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks, and buses have the right of way. Pedestrians have the right of way at striped crossings.

Local police have the right to perform on-the-spot breathalyzer tests; the blood/alcohol limit is .05 grams/liter (approximately one beer). Drivers with an alcohol level:

- between .5 g/l and .79 g/l will be charged with a fine and could be taken to jail; and

- higher than .8 g/l, in addition to a fine (base on your income), the possibility of being arrested, your Swiss driver's license will be confiscated for at least three months.

As a training tool, you can test your knowledge of Swiss regulations for drivers and cyclists at: driving in Switzerland: http://www.cooldriving.ch/ and cycling in Switzerland: http://www.coolcycling.ch/

(Source: OSAC 2014)

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