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Sweden 2017 Crime & Safety Report

Europe > Sweden; Europe > Sweden > Stockholm

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

U.S. Embassy Stockholm does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED STOCKHOLM AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Please review OSAC’s Sweden-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.

Crime Threats

The general crime rate in Sweden is below the U.S. national average; however, the notion that foreign travelers are immune to crime is a common misconception. The prevalent rate of crime in major urban areas shows travelers are more susceptible to certain types of crime (mainly thefts) than national criminal statistics would indicate. Most crimes involve the theft of personal property from vehicles, residences, and public areas. Travelers should be especially wary for petty thieves/pickpockets and should be careful of distractions and other techniques used to divert attention. Robberies have occurred in high commercial areas. Pickpocketing and petty theft are common in/near major tourist attractions (Stockholm’s Old Town), at restaurants, amusement parks, museums, bars, and on public transportation, including at airports.

Sweden’s geographic locale and climate affect crime rates; crime tends to increase acutely in the summer when tourism, empty residences, and diminished police resources contribute to a spike in theft during extended daylight. Criminal networks from neighboring Schengen countries to impact the nature of criminal activity in Sweden, but it is unknown exactly how much influence these networks have.

Hotel breakfast rooms and lobbies attract professional, well-dressed thieves who blend in with guests and target purses/briefcases left unguarded.

According to official statistics, the increase in the number of reported crimes in 2016 was negligible compared to 2015 (an increase by less than half a percent). The categories of crimes that reported the highest increase from 2015 were computer-based fraud, benefits fraud, and unlawful threats. 2016 saw a decrease in thefts (home burglaries, car thefts) and drug offenses. 

Official Swedish homicide statistics (and final statistics for all reported crimes) are not released until late March of each year. This report includes only official homicide statistics for 2015. There were 112 reported homicides in 2015, approximately 22% higher than 2014 (84 reported homicides). The reported number of homicides includes unnatural deaths that may, after investigation, be deemed a suicide/accidental death. 

Travelers should exercise caution when using ATMs and should inspect card insertion areas for modifications and skimming hardware. Travelers should only use reputable cash exchange outlets when withdrawing cash.

Organized criminal activity is driven by low-level organized criminal groups, many associated with larger motorcycle gangs and organized crime elements from Eastern Europe. Small businesses have reported instances of extortion; however, larger, international companies and franchises have not.

Violent crimes (homicides, sexual assaults) do occur. The majority occur in larger cities (Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo). The number of reported rapes increased in 2016 compared to 2015 (6,560 reports in 2016 compared to 5,830 in 2015); however, the number of reported rapes in 2016 is commensurate to the level seen in 2014. The statistics show only the number of crimes reported and not the total number of actual crimes committed in society.

Cybersecurity Issues

There was an increase in computer fraud in 2016. Computer fraud is defined as any act using computers, the Internet, Internet devices, and Internet services to defraud people, companies, or government agencies of money, revenue, or Internet access.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Sweden has excellent transportation infrastructure. Driving is on the right-hand side of the road (driver in the left side of the vehicle). Sweden has a zero tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving; it is illegal to drive after one drink. Travelers driving in the winter should ensure they have proper winter tires and emergency roadside kits. Seat belts are mandatory for all passengers.

Infant seats should be used for children up to 9 months old. Rear-facing car seats are for children from 9 months to 4 years. Child/booster seats are required up to age 10 or 140cm (about 4'6''). Cushion/booster seats with seatbelt are for children up to 10 years old.

Pedestrians have priority at crosswalks. Headlights must be on at all times. At dusk and when it is dark always have them on full, but dim them when meeting another car. Right turns on red are prohibited. Do not use your horn unnecessarily. Trams always have priority in cities. Driving on shoulder is permitted in order to allow faster cars to pass (on highways)

Many accidents involve wild animals. Watch for road signs indicating wild animals (moose, deer).

Public Transportation Conditions

Stockholm has an excellent public transportation system of buses, subway (T-Bana), and commuter trains (Pendeltåg, Lidingöbanan). The Storstockholms Lokaltrafik (SL) operates both the bus and subway systems, and their tickets are interchangeable. The system is divided into zones, and the ticket price will increase for each border you cross (except for monthly card holder for whom there are unlimited zones). There are several ticket options when using public transportation. The SL website provides detailed information in English.

Terrorism Threat

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED STOCKHOLM AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

Sweden’s political engagement abroad has not cultivated homegrown domestic terrorist groups with a clear mandate/agenda to target Swedish infrastructure or government. However, the U.S. Embassy recognizes the possibility that unaffiliated/autonomous groups may conduct terrorist attacks.

In January 2017, Sweden’s National Centre for Terrorist Threat Assessment (NCT) released its 2017 threat assessment for Sweden and Swedish interests abroad. This report also took into consideration The Swedish Security Service (SÄPO)’s current operational situation. The greatest terrorist threat to Sweden, according to the NCT, is Islamist extremism. Sweden is regarded as a legitimate but not prioritized target for terrorist attacks by violence-promoting Islamists. There are operatives who have both the intent and the capability to carry out terrorist attacks.

SÄPO remains concerned with the numbers of foreign terrorist fighters who have left Sweden to join violent extremist groups in Syria. In June 2016, SÄPO noted a decrease in foreign fighters traveling from Sweden, likely because it was more difficult to travel to Syria. However, terrorism experts have warned about an increased risk of domestic terror attacks as would-be jihadi travelers stay in country and ISIL encourages actions at home.

The Schengen enlargement, which in December 2008 opened EU borders to the Baltic States, essentially expanded the EU’s Schengen open border area with Belarus and Russia by 1,800 kilometers.

Sweden has seen a rise in the number of asylum-seekers entering their country. The Swedish Migration Agency estimated that the country received between 160,000-190,000 asylum-seekers in 2015, the highest per capita in the EU. In November 2015, Sweden began temporary internal border controls in response to massive immigration flows. In 2016, the number of asylum seekers entering Sweden was approximately 30,000, a significant decrease from 2015. 

Extreme right- and left-wing groups, as well as ethnic-based groups, have targeted one another in low-level violence some of which was either attributed to commemorating certain anniversaries or in retaliation to perceived attacks.

Notable arrests include Swedish national and Malmö resident Osama Krayem )for involvement in the 2016 Brussels attacks) and Aydin Sevigin (convicted in June 2016 for plotting a suicide attack in Sweden).

On December 14, 2015, the Gothenburg District Court sentenced two individuals to life in prison for the crime of terrorism through murder after it ruled that graphic video evidence showed the pair taking part in the beheadings of two people in Syria. The verdicts marked the first time foreign fighters were convicted in Sweden of crimes committed in Syria and the first time individuals were convicted specifically for the crime of terrorism.

In September 2011, four men were arrested by the Swedish Security Service for plotting to murder Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who was also targeted in the February 14-15, 2015 terrorist attack in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In December 2010, a commercial district of Stockholm experienced its first reported suicide bombing. The bomber activated his devices prematurely and killed only himself. This event has been the last identified terrorist act committed in Sweden.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED STOCKHOLM AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Civil Unrest

Sweden’s laws allow for peaceful demonstrations, and 2016 saw multiple demonstrations directed at the U.S. Embassy. However, these demonstrations were not anti-American and ended without incident.

In 2016, there were demonstrations not directed at the U.S. Embassy that did escalate into violence; thus, travelers should recognize the possibility that peaceful demonstrations can turn violent unexpectedly and quickly and should avoid demonstrations.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Sweden experiences heavy rains, heavy snowfall, flash floods, and forest fires that have contributed to multiple injuries, deaths, and evacuations of residents.

Privacy Concerns

There are very strict privacy laws in Sweden that govern the release of personal information, especially criminal histories.

Personal Identity Concerns

As in 2015, hate-related crimes continued to occur in Sweden in 2016, with acts directed at mosques, the Jewish community, asylum centers, and the immigrant community.

Drug-related Crimes

Drug trafficking is limited to low levels of domestic consumption/transit. This consists of cocaine from South America via Spain; heroin from Central Asia via Poland and the Baltics; methamphetamines from Poland; marijuana from Europe; and khat from the Horn of Africa (consumed by Sweden’s sizable Eritrean, Ethiopian, and Somali populations).

Travelers can expect to see heavy drug use in/around major urban centers (near the central train station). Cocaine and meth are prevalent in some night clubs; however, narcotics do not seem to be a major precursor for violent crime.

Police Response

Sweden’s law enforcement and security services are professional, fully capable, and outstanding partners of U.S. law enforcement. 

Travelers should carry a copy of the biographical page from their passport and emergency contact information for the U.S. Embassy and local police.

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

Police harassment is exceptionally rare; however, if U.S. travelers are detained or harassed by police, they should immediately call the U.S. Embassy duty officer or American Citizen Services.
You can reach the U.S. Embassy during normal business hours and after hours, seven days a week, via the main Embassy telephone number: +46  (0) 8 783 5300 (if dialing from the U.S.: 011 46 (0) 8 783 5300).

Crime Victim Assistance

Travelers who are victims of crime should expect a police response commensurate with the criticality of the incident. For instance, a victim of a violent crime can expect rapid, expert support/investigation. Victims of purse snatching, for example, should expect formal, polite assistance but possibly lengthy delays in investigation or resolution. U.S. citizen victims of crime should first contact local police authorities by dialing 112. Crime victims should then contact the U.S. Embassy at +(46) (8) 785-5300 once they have contacted local authorities.

Local police non-emergency Tel: 114-14

All emergencies Tel: 112

Police/Security Agencies

The Swedish Police Authority: Their mission is to reduce crime and increase public safety. The aim is also for more crimes to be solved. The police mission is also described in the Police Act (1984:387). Among other things, it states that the police shall prevent crime, monitor public order and safety, conduct reconnaissance, and carry out criminal investigations.

The Swedish Security Service (SÄPO): The Swedish Security Service prevents and detects offences against national security, fights terrorism, and protects the central government.

Medical Emergencies

Nationwide emergency tel: 112

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

Travelers requiring emergency medical attention can use a number of 24-hour hospitals throughout Stockholm; however, the two largest and most likely hospitals to be used are:

Karolinska Hospital

Karolinska Vagen 17176

Tel: 46-8-517-7000

www.ks.se

 

Danderyd Hospital

Mörbygårdsvägen 18288

Danderyd, Sweden

Tel: 46-8-655-5000      

www.ds.se

A large number of other medical and consultation services are available throughout Stockholm; information is readily available in English on the Internet. Travelers outside of Stockholm should consult local directories for contact information for the appropriate local hospital in their area.

Available Air Ambulance Services

Emergency helicopters are available in Stockholm County.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Sweden.

OSAC Country Council Information

The Stockholm Country Council currently meets twice a year and has approximately 25 members. Please contact OSAC’s Europe team with any questions or to join.  

U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation

Dag Hammarskjölds Vag 31
115 89 Stockholm, Sweden

Operating hours: Mon-Fri, 0800-1630 (closed Saturday and Sunday)

Embassy Contact Numbers

Embassy Operator: +46-8-783-5300

Regional Security Officer: +46-8-783-5413

Medical Unit: +46-8-783-5464/5564

Consular Affairs: +46-8-783-5375

Political/Economic Section: +46-8-783-5321

Marine Post One: +46-8-783-5310

Website: http://stockholm.usembassy.gov/

Embassy Guidance

If you are going to reside in or visit Sweden, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your presence in-country. U.S. citizens can enroll their stay or visit in Sweden on the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) website. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency.

The Department of State has issued a Worldwide Caution to update information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness.

Additional Resources

Sweden Country Information Sheet