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Sweden 2015 Crime and Safety Report

Europe > Sweden; Europe > Sweden > Stockholm

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

Crime Rating: Low

Crime Threats

Sweden enjoys a low crime rate. However, the notion that foreign travelers are immune to crime is a common misconception. The prevalent rate of crime in major urban areas show travelers are more susceptible to certain types of crime (muggings, vehicle theft, credit card fraud) than national criminal statistics would indicate. Sweden’s geographic locale and climate affect crime rates, as crime tends to increase acutely in summer months when tourism, empty residences, and diminished police resources contribute to a spike in theft during extended daylight. Further, criminal networks from some of the neighboring Schengen countries are now considered to impact the nature of criminal activity in Sweden, but it is unknown exactly how much influence these networks have.

According to official statistics, incidents of vehicle theft have gone down seven percent since 2013. Estimates for 2014 placed the number of stolen vehicles in Sweden at 14,300. Vehicles are rarely recovered and are usually shipped out of the country for resale or disassembly. Vehicle break-ins are a more frequent phenomenon, as 52,500 vehicle break-ins were reported in 2014.

Robberies, according to official statistics, are either occurring infrequently or are not being reported regularly. Some 8,360 robberies were reported in 2014, approximately the same as in 2013. In the last half of 2014, several high-profile robberies of currency exchange facilities occurred in Stockholm; perpetrators used suspicious packages to divert police resources from the actual robbery site. In each instance, the packages were found not to contain explosives.

There were 88,500 burglaries in Sweden in 2014, showing an increase of approximately six percent from 2013. Single family homes saw the largest increase in burglaries, from 13,628 in 2013 to 14,600 in 2014.
 
In 2014, there were 53,400 pickpocketing cases reported, which is a decrease of two percent since 2013. This category is largely attributed to criminal organizations operating in crowded areas, specifically during the summer tourist season.

The homicide rate in 2014 remained unchanged from the rate in 2013 with 87 cases reported both years. This was up from 68 cases reported in 2013.  

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

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions 

Sweden has excellent transportation infrastructure. Driving, like in the U.S., in on the right-hand side. 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 regardless of where you are seated. 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)

Travelers should avoid parking cars in poorly lit areas of the city overnight and should use parking garages when possible. Travelers should also avoid leaving valuables in plain sight in cars. When possible, travelers should consider using anti-theft devices to lock the steering wheel and brake mechanism.

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 (www.sl.se) provides detailed information in English.

Other Travel Conditions

More than 30 accidents daily involve wild animals. Watch for road signs indicating wild animals (usually moose).

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

Sweden generally practices peace-time non-alignment in international military affairs but serves an active supporting role in a number of multi-lateral initiatives (troop deployments in Afghanistan).

Political Violence Rating: Low

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. 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. In addition, supporters of terrorism are thought to take advantage of Sweden’s liberal laws and use Sweden as a base to fundraise for international militant causes.

Extreme right- and left-wing groups have targeted one another in low-level violence, commemorating certain anniversaries noteworthy to their respective causes. 

In December 2010, a busy commercial district of Stockholm experienced its first reported suicide bombing. The bomber activated his devices prematurely and succeeded in killing only himself. Had the operation been successful, the number of deaths and injuries would have been significant. 

In September 2011, four men were arrested by the Swedish Security Service for plotting to murder artist Lars Vilks. 

Terrorism Rating: Medium

Civil Unrest 

Sweden’s laws allow for peaceful demonstrations, and 2014 saw multiple demonstrations directed at the U.S. Embassy. However, these demonstrations were not “anti-American” and ended peacefully, without incident. Travelers should recognize the possibility that peaceful demonstrations can turn violent unexpectedly and quickly.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

In August 2014, heavy rains contributed to flash floods in the south, to include Skåne. 

In late July 2014, Sweden’s largest forest fire in 40 years occurred in Västmanland. The fire reportedly engulfed more than 15,000 hectares and contributed to multiple injuries, one death, and the evacuation of many residents.

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 continental Europe; and Kat 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 methamphetamine are prevalent in some night clubs; however, narcotics do not seem to be a major precursor for violent crime.

Police Response

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.

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. 

Local police non-emergency Tel: 114-14
All emergencies Tel: 112

Police/Security Agencies 

There are roughly 20,000 police employees with the majority assigned to the three largest counties: Stockholm, Vastra Gotland, and Skane. The police are undergoing a national re-organization with the goal of making a more streamlined and efficient department. Sweden had 21 county police departments that will become one national police organization divided into seven regions. The Swedish Security Services (SAPO) will remain unaffected by the reorganization. The government is also exploring ways to better leverage national police capacity with the needs of smaller police administrations in order to address the proliferation of criminal elements occurring in smaller, less populous counties. 

Medical Emergencies

Contact Information for Recommended Hospitals/Clinics

Travelers in Stockholm requiring emergency medical attention can use a number of 24-hour hospitals throughout Stockholm; however, the two largest and most likely to be used are:
Karolinska Hospital (www.ks.se), Karolinska Vagen 171 76, 46-8-517-7000
Danderyd Hospital (www.ds.se), 46-8-655-5000

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.

Recommended Air Ambulance Services

Emergency helicopters are available in Stockholm County.

CDC Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance 

For additional information on vaccines and health guidance, please visit the CDC at: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/sweden. 

Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Situational Awareness Best Practices 

Travelers should use common sense when traveling and attempt to reduce the impact of crime by not carrying large sums of cash/valuables on their person.

Travelers should be especially wary in train/subway stations for petty thieves and pickpockets and should be careful of distractions and other techniques used to divert attention. Travelers should be vigilant and aware of their surroundings, as robberies occur in high commercial areas.

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 on credit/debit cards.

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

Travelers should store valuables in hotel safes or safety deposit boxes when available.

Travelers should avoid demonstrations.

U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information 

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation 

Dag Hammarskjölds Vag 31
115 89 Stockholm, Sweden

Operating hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm (closed Saturday and Sunday)

Embassy Contact Numbers

Embassy Operator: +46-8-783-5300
Regional Security Officer: +46-8-783-5412
Medical Unit: +46-8-783-5464/5564
Consular Affairs: +46-8-783-5375
Political/Economic Section: +46-8-783-5321/4515
Marine Post One: +46-8-783-5310
Website: http://stockholm.usembassy.gov/

Embassy Guidance

Travelers should register with the U.S. Embassy.

OSAC Country Council Information

Stockholm does not have an OSAC Country Council. OSAC constituents may contact the RSO directly and work in cooperation with the American Chamber of Commerce. The U.S. Embassy Stockholm is working with OSAC constituents in order to re-establish Stockholm’s OSAC Council. Point of contact is RSO George Semertsidis, +46-8-783-5412, SemertsidisGA@state.gov. To reach OSAC’s Europe team, please email OSACEUR@state.gov.