Similar story to Village Idiot's: I was walking with my son in Theaterplatz in Basel. He saw Richard Serra's Intersection
, the giant rusty metal sculpturey-thingy (some would call it art), and decided to run through it.
I ran around to the other end and saw a handbag lying on the ground inside the sculpture. I picked it up and saw at once that all the zips (and there were a lot) were open and there was no money in the bag, although there was a wallet with a couple of ID cards for a young Brazilian woman, but no Swiss cards or papers. Conclusion: this bag probably belonged to a tourist or maybe a student and had been stolen, ransacked and dumped.
So I decided to deliver the bag to a police station. I racked my brain but couldn't remember seeing one in the area, so I popped into the Theater shop to ask where a police station was. Blank looks. Then the shop assistant googled and said there was one at Fischmarkt, but since it was just after 5:00 pm on a Saturday, she didn't think that one would be open. (Apparently criminals follow business hours, so the police do too.) Then she suggested that the police station at the Bahnhof SBB may be open. Maybe. But at least I discovered that the Intersection
sculpture is known locally as "Pissoir".
So: to the Bahnhof. Not exactly convenient, but OK, off I set to collect my car from the parking garage to visit the police on my way home. At the carpark, a new problem arose: the machine wouldn't read my ticket so I couldn't pay. No-one would answer the intercom. Eventually I had to wander up three floors to the service desk of the supermarket above to find someone who could help -- and of course, in the meantime, my parking fees had increased. After 15 minutes I finally got to speak with the store manager, who took pity on me and spoke excellent English. When I explained the problem, and threw in the bit about the stolen handbag, he exclaimed, "Stolen? In Switzerland? Impossible!" (He may or may not have been joking.) At any rate, he decided to do his own Good Samaritan act and let me out of the parking garage without paying at all, waiving CHF 15.00! Thank you, nameless Migros manager! He also suggested that I try the police station at Binningen, which was on my way home (and was also the only police station I can remember seeing in the Basel area). As we were talking, my son suddently piped up. "Daddy, it's leaking!" I looked down to see a puddle forming under the bag and had a weird mental image of some terrorist's bomb about to explode (too much air travel recently, with liquids limited to microscopic amounts). But no, the cap on the bottle of Evian inside the bag was loose.
So I finally set off for the SBB but couldn't see the police station from the outside, so decided it was safest to continue on to Binningen. I got there at 5:50 pm and was surprised to see that the police station was open (until 6:00 pm), although no-one was actually behind the counter. A press of the doorbell sorted that out, though, and a friendly policeman took the damp bag and my details with Swiss efficiency.
Hopefully the bag was reunited with its owner.
Bottom line -- it's very hard to find the police when you need them.