In Switzerland, things aren´t stolen, only moved

One would hardly expect that when moving within Europe – in fact, only in Central Europe – so many cultural shocks will be waiting for him. Perhaps we´ve been lucky that we´ve met only positive ones so far. Thus, perhaps the greatest of them was our finding that Switzerland is a country where things aren´t practically stolen.

From the beginning, we were struck by the fact that people here normally leave their bikes unlocked in front of their houses. Or grills and expensive garden furniture on an unfenced yard. Or if the postman doesn´t reach you at home, he will leave your package at the front door and you´ll then find it intact when you return home.

When we told our families and friends back in our homeland, nobody wanted to believe us. They ceased to be skeptical only when they came to visit us and on our walks, we passed the shops where the goods had been exposed outside the shops after closing hours. Or when we had left the car in front of the house with the key in the ignition (of course not on purpose, but due to our own carelessness :)) and in the morning we found it untouched in its place. Or when we took them to the self-service shop at a local farm, where you can choose goods and leave the money in a freely accessible moneybox. And every one of them agreed that this wouldn´t be possible in the Czech Republic. A little sad, but I guess it’s true.

The Swiss “idyll” has been a bit disturbed recently when our German teacher came to the lecture wide-eyed and told us that someone had stolen her bike. She couldn´t believe that this could happen. She was full of determination to look for her bike at the train station, on the football field, the pool or by the river, because it supposedly happens that people get round “borrow” a bike and when they need it anymore, they will simply leave it somewhere. And you know what? The next week she came beaming with happiness that she had found her bike. In the campus where the course is organized. Do you find it incredible? Me too.

If you ask the Swiss how this is possible, they won´t be probably able to answer. Because they simply can´t imagine that it could be otherwise.

Therefore, I will add one more story that might better render their way of thinking. We were invited by my husband’s Swiss colleague to have fondue before visiting a hockey match. Our son had decided to have chips, which then staff forgot to add the final bill. On our leave, we realized that fact, but the colleague waved to leave it – the price of some chips is an insignificant item in the number of guests and ordered meals. After few days, we learned that the colleague returned to the restaurant after the match to pay those chips. Yet, he said, those few francs would be missing in the cash register.

Of course, you can rightly argue me speaking of the experience of living in rural areas. Yes, I also dare say that in larger cities, it´s probably different. Even with regard to the number of people from different countries in which the essence of Swiss character doesn´t own. But even so. This “not stealing” is something that fills me with admiration for this country, which has become my second home.


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Categories: Essays, Life, Switzerland
“We have the most beautiful train station in Moravia”, says the mayor
“I miss my family and friends”, agree the German class participants.


Hana Hurábová

16 Comments. Leave new

  • This is a great post! My swiss husband is so swiss that we had a large problem at begining together here in Switzerland. Like no vaccum on sunday. And not before 10 and after 22. And not between 11-13 and 17-19.
    And about stolen, yes I got my wallet stolen my first week moving to Bern. But I belive this happen anywhere in big cities. Other from that at the village around swiss is safe.

    • Haha, I´m planning to write also about opening hours 🙂 But gets used to it very quickly!

  • Interesting experiences 🙂 I also forgot my phone on a bench in Interlaken, realized that after one hour but it was exactly where I left it. In my homecountry, that wouldn’t be possible

    • Unfortunately in my home country either 🙁 We are lucky living in Switzerland!

  • Having grown up here to me this is “normal”, but of course I realise it’s not. The only other similar country I know of is Canada.

    I like how respectful most citizens are towards other people’s property.

    Yes, bicycles have their way of disappearing (especially from train stations) and showing up elsewhere.

    • Good to here there are places like Switzerland in the world 🙂 And thanks for the “insider” point of view! 🙂

  • Yes, this is one of the many things that struck me when we moved to Switzerland! We lived in gated communities all our lives in India, with watchmen patrolling the community and minding the entry of visitors – visitors are given a temporary pass or are made to enter their names in a guest book, and this used to be entirely ‘normal’ for us. Children going to schools by themselves is unheard of in Indian metros (and most urban areas in the world), and children are never let out of sight, never even out in a playground next to your own house. So living here is quite like a dream come true!!

  • […] Right in the center of Biberist, you can relax by the fountain with drinking water (what else in Switzerland :)). Here we not only found a comfortable place to rest but also encountered a Swiss trait that continues to amaze me, even though I thought I already got used to it long ago: on Sunday there were exposed flower pots in front of the closed store that no one steals. Because in Switzerland, things aren´t stolen, just relocated ? […]

  • Hi, real Swiss citizen here! I’ve really enjoyed reading this article. But you need to be careful in which areas of Switzland you are if you want to leave your bike unlocked 🙂
    I am born and raised to be a Swiss and I’m in love with our culture and our behavior towards one another. I’m proud to be part of this country ^^

    • Hi Nina, thanks for stopping by! I´m also in love with your culture and you´re really supposed to be proud of your great country!

  • This is a great post. I meet so people from over there. They so nice.

  • […] Although I have Tropenhaus classified under the “Indoor activities” category, you have to go through the outdoor area around the breeding tanks to get from the first part of the exhibition to the others. However, you do not have to worry about bad weather – there are umbrellas for these cases that you can use and return them while entering the tropical garden. Well thought out, huh? And I believe there haven´t been any umbrellas missing because, in Switzerland, things are not stolen, only moved. […]

  • […] 1. There are (almost) no robberies […]

  • […] You can take as an example that children walk alone to the kindergarten and in Switzerland, things aren´t stolen, only moved. […]

  • […] Read also: In Switzerland, things arent stolen, only moved […]

  • […] but with the difference that we made sure to put the shoe on the balcony. Even though we know that in Switzerland, things aren´t stolen, only moved (people here normally leave untied front wheels or barbecues and garden furniture on an unfenced […]


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