Swiss police arrest armed robbers, who turn out to be film crew

Swiss police arrest armed robbers, who turn out to be film crew

It’s often said that in order to give the best performance on stage and screen, you have to truly embody the character you are playing. A group of Swiss actors may now be cursing the works of Stanislawski, after their fake armed robbery got them arrested by police in Switzerland.

Neuchâtel robbery part of 48-hour film competition

According to a report from the city police of Neuchâtel, the story begins when six people, José, Julian, Davide, Dylan, Eva and Dan, attempted to create a short film for the 48 Hour Film Project in Geneva. The global event involves over 50.000 amateur and professional filmmakers from 100 cities worldwide, who have a weekend to write, shoot, edit and submit a short film. 

The results are then broadcast in a number of local theatres, with Oscar-like awards given for Best Acting, Best Directing and the top prize: Best Film. Unfortunately for the filmmakers in Neuchâtel, things got a bit too realistic after they decided to create a comedy revolving around a robbery with a fake firearm.

Fake firearm prompts massive response by Swiss police

Because of the short timeframe, the group were unable to inform everyone that something that looked quite like preparations for armed robbery was going to be filmed in an alley near the Avenue des Vignobles. Somewhat inevitably, a local resident, seeing the group and the fake weapon from their window, decided to ignore the cameras and warn the Neuchâtel police.

The filmmakers were soon confronted by a large force of highly equipped and armed police officers. “We were impressed by the coincidence of seeing this during the filming of our film. We went out into the alley several times, but without getting too close to the Avenue, for fear of being taken for real criminals,” scriptwriter José told 20 Minuten.

Filmmakers apologise for turning Neuchâtel into budget Oceans' 11

Around an hour later, police were finally ready to go in to apprehend the fake robbers, entering the apartment they were in and searching for the reported firearm. Four of the six creators were then handcuffed by the emergency services and taken to the police station where they were individually interrogated for three hours. The film crew are now subject to a criminal complaint, and their dummy firearm has been confiscated.

In the statement, Neuchâtel police said that “in the current context, one must be aware that encounters with armed people cause fear and terror among the population, and it is clear that, without authorisation issued by the municipality for such a practice, the police must intervene.” For their part, the filmmakers confirmed that their piece now begins with an apology to the people of Neuchâtel for turning part of their city into a heist film without telling everyone.

Thumb image credit: Michael Derrer Fuchs /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

Read more



Leave a comment