The New York Times recently ran an article entitled “Open Borders and Wealth Lure Thieves To Geneva” addressing Geneva’s dramatic rise in crime rates (for property crimes like property theft, car theft and break-ins). It cited several reasons for the rise:
- Geneva is a private banking hub and one of Europe’s wealthiest cities.
- Crime is not punished as harshly in Switzerland as it is in France (which surrounds Geneva), particularly if it is an offender’s first time. Although not mentioned in the article, most of Switzerland’s prisoners are foreigners.
- Preventative detention is not permitted in Switzerland.
- French gangs are now venturing in to Switzerland in search of greener pastures.
- Geneva has a lot to secure, from international organizations, to a rapidly growing city, to private banks. It requested funding for 200 more officers.
Locals have complained about the deteriorating security situation ever since the Schengen Agreement opened Switzerland’s borders to much of Europe.
In December 2008, Switzerland (even though it is not part of the European Union) became part of Schengen, a zone offering unrestricted travel to Europe. In Schengen areas, borders are open. There are no more passport checks entering countries or at borders (even though there are police checks at borders or checks for trafficked goods). On a side note, don’t get caught bringing a bunch bargain French meat into Switzerland. The Swiss, who love a fine, will make you pay.
Before our move, people warned us of the problems with break-ins. We forked over a ton of CHF‘s to get this. It bolts the door into the door frame. We also got an additional top lock. To get into our apartment in Geneva, you pretty much need to do this.
All of the buildings here have these too. Our code changed once already because of an attempted break-in. Our neighbor’s bar stopped the thieves, but it was so badly damaged that they had to call a locksmith to let them in.
After having lived in Detroit, I keep track of my stuff, don’t leave anything out, lock all of my many locks and don’t worry. Mom and Dad, you don’t need to worry about either. Despite the rise in reported crime, Geneva is still the sixth safest city in the world.