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Are Switzerland’s strict noise restrictions to blame for the surge in cash truck robberies?

Are Switzerland's strict noise restrictions to blame for the surge in cash truck robberies?
Burnt out vehicles in the canton of Vaud after a cash truck robbery. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
With robberies of cash transporters so frequent in Switzerland, insurers will no longer cover deliveries in Vaud. We investigate why strict Swiss noise limits may be partly to blame.

Switzerland’s strict banking rules mean the country is known the world over as a safe place to keep your cash.

But for drivers of cash trucks – armoured cars which carry money and valuables to banks and other destinations – Switzerland is now so dangerous that insurers won’t cover certain regions. 

Cash transporters have now dropped particular routes, especially around the canton of Vaud. 

As a result, SecurePost will no longer deliver to or from Daillens, which has led to fears of cash shortages. 

Béatrice Métraux, the Vaud minister in charge of security, told Swiss national broadcaster that stopping the attacks must be an urgent priority. 

These attacks are shocking and dramatic. They’re shocking for the population, for the lorry drivers, and for public safety,” she said.

“Now it’s up to politicians to take urgent action.”

No money, no problems?

Post authorities have said that there may be disruptions “to the supply of money in Western Switzerland”, including ATMs not having enough cash. 

There have been a range of other steps taken, including installing security systems in transporters which spray the cash with ink during a robbery or otherwise destroy the valuables inside. 

Other security measures have been implemented, however the details have not been made public. 

Burnt out vehicles in the canton of Vaud after a cash truck robbery. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

A history of heists

For a country which prides itself on high levels of safety as much as Switzerland, it is perhaps surprising that heists are so prevalent. 

READ: Switzerland ranked one of the world’s ‘safest countries’

As reported by The Local, there were several attacks in Vaud alone in 2019, with more than ten taking place since 2006.

Many of them occur at night time. Night cash transportation is preferred not only for safety, but for economic reasons – as otherwise there is the risk that ATMs will run empty in the mornings. 

The most recent happened on December 2nd in Dalliens, when unidentified assailants stopped a cash transporter with guns, before blowing it up. 

According to Swiss national broadcaster Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF), the attacks are not carried out by locals. Instead, the perpetrators are well-organized criminal gangs from France or other neighbouring European countries. 

“In general, such attacks are committed by criminals from Lyon in France or by member of the travelling community,” Vaud cantonal police spokesperson Jean-Christophe Sauterel told SRF.

Why Switzerland – and why Vaud?

From isolation to opportunity, there are a range of theories as to why Vaud – and Dalliens – is such a frequent target. 

One major reason – and an apparent oversight on the part of the authorities – is that armoured cars in Switzerland are, well, not so armoured. 

Indeed, money is often transported in regular vans in the region and for security reasons cash is often transported at night.

As reported in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the strict Swiss law restrictions on noise prevent armoured cars – which are heavier and noisier than regular vehicles – from travelling at night or on Sundays. 

Under Swiss law, vehicles heavier than 3.5 tonnes cannot be driven at these times.  This essentially means the cash trucks are vulnerable to night time robberies.

READ: The ten weirdest laws in Switzerland

Oliver Feller, a politician from the centre-right FDP, has filed a motion which would provide an exemption to the noise restriction law for vehicles transporting cash. 

The Federal Council has officially provided a counter point in the motion, arguing that armoured trucks under this weight limit exist on the market and should be used to carry cash in the region to prevent the population from ‘stressful noise’. 

“Protecting the population from noise is a major concern of the Federal Council. Noise is a stress factor, reduces the quality of life and makes you sick,” the statement reads.

“Armoured vans for the transport of funds whose total weight is less than 3.5 tons are on the market… [T]hese vehicles are not subject to the ban on driving on Sunday and at night.”

Little protection under 3.5 tonnes

However, representatives from companies which transport the money have argued that these lighter vehicles provide little protection. 

Luc Sergy, managing director of the Association of Swiss Security Service Companies (VSSU), said the rule showed the poor understanding Swiss legislators had when it comes to safety in money transportation. 

“The Federal Council is highlighting its ignorance with regard to armour systems,” Sergy said. 

Sergy told the NZZ that only minimal reinforcements could be made to vehicles under 3.5 tonnes – with industry standards requiring vehicles which weigh between 20 and 25 tonnes. 

Although money can be transported during the day, as a result customers can expect more frequent disruptions – particularly in the mornings when ATMs are likely to be empty. 

Another reason for the frequency of the heists is Vaud’s central location in one of the most populous regions of Switzerland, which makes it a frequent transit point for cash not only from Switzerland but from Europe in general. 

Other steps which are being rolled out include strengthening police patrols along the border. 


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