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Austria 2012 Crime and Safety Report

Europe > Austria > Vienna

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

Crime Threats

Crime, especially in Vienna, has increased over the past year, but Austria enjoys a LOW overall crime rate. Violent criminal acts occur on an infrequent basis and are rarely directed against American visitors. Typically, most criminal activity is focused in the larger metropolitan areas. Petty criminals, such as pickpockets and purse snatchers, should be expected in the highly populated areas, including areas frequented by tourists, bus and train stations, and on subways. Most crimes involving Americans are crimes of opportunity, involving the theft of personal belongings, whether on the person or in standing vehicles. Such crimes are generally non-violent, and weapons are seldom used. Although drug use has risen slightly, drug-related criminal activity against Americans is rare. Residential burglaries continue to be a significant concern, especially in the more affluent neighborhoods, and Vienna is rated MEDIUM for residential crime. Precautions such as always double locking your house doors and windows, and asking neighbors to check your dwelling while you are away help to deter these types of criminal activities. Vehicle thefts have not increased. Locking your car and parking in guarded or well-lit areas are generally sufficient to deter these types of criminal activities.

Road Safety

Austria has a vast network of highways and roads all in good condition, and traffic flows in an organized manner. In Vienna, city roads are shared by a complex tram and bus system, creating unique driving hazards to the uninitiated. Mountain roads are full of bends and require good driving skills. In winter, some minor mountain passes are blocked by snow. Carrying snow chains in winter is highly recommended and may be compulsory in some areas.

Speed limits
Country roads – 100km/h
Autobahn – 130km/h
Towns – 50km/h

The legal limit for blood alcohol is 0.05 BAC. Fines for violating this limit range from 218€ to 3,634€ and result in the suspension of the driver's license.

Political Violence 

Historical Perspective

Austria is a stable democracy; the potential for war or civil unrest is low. Political demonstrations on a variety of issues occur with some frequency, especially in Vienna. Demonstrations in 2011 were peaceful. Although police control for planned demonstrations is routinely very good, Americans should be aware of the possibility of any demonstration becoming violent and consider avoiding planned demonstrations if possible.

Regional Terrorism and Organized Crime

Austria has no known regional terrorist groups, and organized crime is very low. Extremist right-wing groups and left-wing groups are present. Americans should be alert to their surroundings, especially in circumstances where an individual is time and/or place predictable: e.g. leaving or returning to one's home, vehicle, or workplace. If suspicious activity is detected, one should inform the police immediately.

International Terrorism or Transnational Terrorism

Although there have been no recent terrorist actions, the potential for such activity to occur unexpectedly in Austria, as in the rest of Europe, must be taken seriously. During the past year, Austria has made several well-publicized arrests of persons suspected of terrorist activity, and there appear to have been ties between residents of Austria and terrorists or terrorist groups. Terrorist attacks on soft targets around the world underscore the concern of an ever-increasing transnational terrorist threat. Americans should be alert to their surroundings, especially in circumstances where an individual is time and/or place predictable: e.g. leaving or returning to one's home, vehicle, or workplace. If suspicious activity is detected, one should inform the police immediately. Austria is a transport and finance hub, and various international terrorist groups and individuals associated with them are believed to operate as part of their support base.

Civil Unrest

Civil disorder is rare but does occur. Peaceful protests concerning a variety of political causes are common. Groups are generally free to protest as long as they notify the authorities in advance. Protest organizers must apply for a permit to protest with the Vienna city government 24 hours in advance of the event. Vienna city officials issue a permit delineating the parameters of the protest and advise the Vienna police. Police coverage is consistently appropriate. 

Post-Specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards 

Avalanches can be a concern in some of Austria’s mountainous regions. 

Police Response

The quality of Austrian police services is comparable in training, efficiency, and expertise to that of most U.S. cities. In large Austrian cities and resort areas, an English-speaking officer is usually available to assist crime victims. Victims of any type of crime should notify the police immediately. Police authorities are highly professional, and people are expected to cooperate fully with police requests. There is no history of unofficial police detention or harassment.  

Where to Turn for Assistance if you Become a Victim of a Crime and Local Police Telephone Numbers:

The National Police Emergency Number is:  133
The National Fire Emergency Number is:  122
The National Medical Emergency Number is:  144
Additionally, American citizens may wish to contact the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section at the following number:  +43 1 31339 7535.

Medical Emergencies

Contact Information for Local Hospitals and Clinics

Ambulance, Austrian emergency response number: 144

General Hospital 
Allegemeines Krankenhaus (AKH)
Switchboard:  +43 1 40 4000

General Hospital
Switchboard:  +43 1 49 1500

General Hospital
Donauspital SMZ Ost 
Switchboard:  +43 1 288 02

Trauma Hospital
Unfallkrankenhaus Lorenz Bohler
Switchboard:  +43 1 33 1100

Air Ambulance Services

Austrian and Tyrolean Air have several aircraft that are air ambulance capable. Both airlines have short (hours) response times for limited (less than 10) casualties. International SOS can draw on a larger pool of continental air ambulance companies with arrival times of 12-24 hours.

Air Ambulance, International SOS Assistance
Phone:  +44 (0)20 8762 8008

Air Ambulance, Austrian Air Ambulance
Phone:  +43 1 40 144

Air Ambulance, Tyrolean Air
Phone:  +43 512 22422

Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Always try to be aware of your surroundings, especially in highly populated areas or in situations where you would be time or place predictable.

When traveling, never leave personal items unattended, and be suspicious of individuals who offer to assist you with your luggage.

Carry traveler's checks or plan to withdraw money from an ATM rather than carry large amounts of cash with you. Do not flaunt cash or jewelry, and leave unnecessary credit cards and other items at home or locked in a safe.

Carry identification at all times, and secure ID and valuable in an inner pocket, preferably one with a zipper. Carry purses and handbags with the flap or zipper side next to the body. 

Always lock your vehicle, and whenever possible park in a protected, well-lit area. Do not leave anything visible in the interior that would attract a thief's attention.

In hotels, utilize safe deposit boxes for your valuables, and utilize the locks that are on the room doors.

Further Information

All Embassy offices can be reached through the main switchboard:  +43 1 31339 0

U.S. private sector organizations may also contact the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service office and the American Chamber of Commerce in Vienna.

U.S. Foreign Commercial Service in Vienna:  +43 1 31339 2297
American Chamber of Commerce in Vienna:  +43 1 319 5751

OSAC Country Council

There is no OSAC Country Council in Austria; however, U.S. private sector organizations may contact the RSO to obtain additional security-related information.