A theft warning has been issued by the Foreign Office for travellers heading to Switzerland after an increase in reports of theft.
An update on its website said the British embassy received the reports particularly in larger cities, Geneva airport and on trains to and from Geneva.
The website said: “There is a low rate of serious crime in Switzerland. However, the British Embassy has recently received increased reports of theft especially in larger cities, at Geneva airport and on trains to/from Geneva.
“Watch out for pickpockets, confidence tricksters and thieves in city centres, airports, railway stations, on trains and in other public places.”
Holidaymakers should always be on guard of their possessions while travelling, particularly in popular holiday destinations. These are where pickpockets and other types of thieves are drawn because of the high volume of visitors.
Holidays should be a time for relaxing, but often it can mean that visitors let their guard down and are open to having their possessions stolen.
Follow a few of our tips to preventing theft on holiday:
- Photocopy important documents such as passport and travel itinerary before you go.
- Expensive looking luggage may be helpful and keep you looking smart, but it will attract a thief’s eye before a seemingly scruffy or muted colour one.
- Wear a money belt for all the important money and documents you may need while sightseeing.
- Secure your bag to a table or chair leg, or yourself with the bag strap when you sit down at a cafe, particularly when dining outside. This will make it less desirable for a would-be thief who will be looking for something to snatch and run with.
- Never leave your mobile out on a table, it’s the perfect place for it to be swiped.
- Be extra alert of where your valuables are if there is a sudden commotion in a crowded area, as this could potentially be a distraction in order to pickpocket you or someone close by.
A few common scams to look out for:
- Some thieves will pretend to be lost and approach you for directions with a large map which they will place over your mobile phone (mainly if it’s left on a table), which they will pick up with the map and walk away.
- In Paris recently, I came across fake charity workers with clip boards outside the Pompidou Centre. They would approach tourists to ask for their signature and place the clipboard over their bags to try to pickpocket them at the same time.
- Beware of people questioning your seat number on a train, this could of course be genuine, but through the commotion of retrieving tickets to check numbers you could be pick pocketed if you have money in your back/side pockets.
- Some pickpockets use scissors or a sharp razor to cut or slash handbags to get whatever is inside. A bag with multiple compartments, with an inner zipped pocket with most valuable contents closest to your body could help to prevent this.
- Beware of ladies trying to hand you sprigs of rosemary or something similar, by simply touching it they expect you to pay, but may also pick pocket you while your hands are full.