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Austria 2017 Crime & Safety Report

Europe > Austria; Europe > Austria > Vienna

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

U.S. Tri-Mission Vienna 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 VIENNA AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

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

Crime Threats

Crime rates were steady over 2016. The most common crime experienced by Americans was purse/wallet snatchings in crowded areas. Other crimes of opportunity included those in trains, restaurants, and shopping areas in which the victim was distracted and not in physical control of valuables. These crimes were overwhelmingly non-violent; weapons were seldom used in the incidents reported.

Residential burglaries continued to be a significant concern and increased slightly over the year, especially in more affluent neighborhoods. There were a small number of residential crimes involving physical violence and home invasion in 2016, though none specifically targeting Americans.

Vehicle theft reports did not increase.

In 2016, Americans reported a few instances of assault by drunk or emotionally disturbed persons in/near bars and transit hubs, but they were not specifically targeted as Americans. 

While violent crime was infrequent, when it occurred it was heavily covered by the media. A number of jewelers and other merchants have been targeted in robberies during the holiday shopping season in recent years, including in 2016. Armed bank robberies were reported year-round.

Most organized crime is related to burglary and property, rather than violent crime. 

Austria experienced an influx of refugees and asylum seekers in 2016 and continued to handle greater than usual numbers of displaced persons than in previous years. This influx led to an increase in anecdotal reports of some criminal activity where these groups congregate, with some violent and non-violent incidents reported in the press.

Austrians use cash much more than Americans do, so credit card fraud is less prevalent than in the U.S.

Cybersecurity Issues

Cybercrime generally followed worldwide trends. Beginning in 2015 and continuing through 2016, Austrian law enforcement increased – in terms of size, scope, and intensity – its response and prevention efforts for cybercrime.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Austria has a vast network of highways and roads, all in good condition, and traffic flows in an organized manner. In large cities, city roads are shared by a complex tram and bus system, creating unique driving hazards. There is a large network of mountain roads requiring good, attentive driving skills.

Speed limits are:
Country roads – 100km/h;
Autobahn/highways – 130km/h;
Towns – 50km/h.
Construction zone speed limits may differ from the general limits.

Electronic radar detectors are located on all autobahns, motorways, and in cities to assist the police with speed enforcement. Austria employs cameras in controlled speed zones, and drivers may be ticketed automatically for speed violations. All vehicles on the Austrian Autobahn (highway) must have a toll vignette for passenger vehicles or a toll transponder for heavier commercial vehicles. Vignettes can be purchased at most gas stations and local Tabak-Traffik tobacco shops.

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.

During heavy congestion on highways, when traffic significantly slows, Austrian law mandates that motorists leave a corridor for emergency vehicles to pass. The corridor forms to the inside of the right-hand lane of traffic.

Public Transportation Conditions

Public transit systems are excellent. Most operate on the honor system, with random checks by plain clothes ticket enforcement officers. Fines for riding without a validated ticket can be up to 100€ and must be paid on the spot. Pedestrians and drivers should be especially cautious around trams, as they are nearly silent and strike several pedestrians and vehicles each year.

Other Travel Conditions

In winter, some minor mountain passes are blocked by snow, sometimes for prolonged periods. Winter tires or some all-season tires are required on cars during the fall and winter months. Carrying snow chains in winter is also highly recommended and may be compulsory in some areas.

Terrorism Threat

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED VIENNA 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

There have been no recent terrorist attacks in Austria; however, the potential for terrorist-related incidents to occur must be taken seriously. Austria has seen a number of residents go to Syria to fight against government forces with jihadist groups and then return. The threat of extremist violence from these individuals is of growing concern to authorities, and changes to the law were made in 2014 to give police greater investigative authority over suspected jihadists. More recently, according to local press, the international terrorist threat environment prompted the government to further alter its response mechanisms, providing the armed forces a greater complementary counterterrorism role.

In late 2014, police conducted a number of arrests of suspected jihadists and financiers of foreign fighters traveling to Syria. Press reported that Vienna police, on January 20, 2017, arrested a 17-year old Austrian, reportedly an ISIL sympathizer, on charges of planning a terrorist attack in a public space. Also according to press reports, law enforcement authorities confirmed ongoing radicalization efforts by violent Islamist extremist groups in the country. Throughout 2016, Austrian authorities increased efforts to counter incitement of terrorist acts motivated by extremism and to combat the problem of foreign terrorist fighters. Elsewhere in Europe, authorities made several arrests in connection with attacks in the region and acknowledged increased surveillance of potential radical groups due to the heightened threat.  

Religiously-motivated extremism presents a potential threat to European security. Terrorist attacks on soft targets around the world underscore the concern of an ever-increasing transnational terrorist threat. Americans should continue to be alert to their surroundings, especially in circumstances where an individual is time/place predictable. 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 are believed to operate in the country, using it as part of their support base.

Anti-American/Anti-Western Sentiment

Anti-American sentiment is not common, though there were a number of protests in 2013 and 2014 over alleged NSA activities.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

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

Civil Unrest

Austria is a stable democracy. Groups are generally free to protest, and peaceful protests concerning a variety of political causes are common in Vienna. Civil disorder associated with public protests or demonstrations is rare but does occur. Protest organizers must apply for a permit with the Vienna City government 24 hours in advance to protest. The permit delineates the parameters of the protest and advises the police of the planned activity. Police control for planned demonstrations is consistently very good; however, Americans should be aware of the possibility of any demonstration becoming violent and consider avoiding they when possible, especially when rival groups will be present. There was a small protest in Vienna following the January 20, 2017 U.S. inauguration.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Outdoor activities are very popular, particularly winter sports. Groomed ski areas are monitored for avalanche danger, and potential avalanches are brought down under controlled conditions. If participating in winter sports outside of controlled areas, individuals should receive avalanche avoidance training, heed avalanche danger cautions, monitor weather conditions, and carry rescue/survival gear. Austria experiences a number of deadly avalanches each year, including one that killed several American skiers in early 2015.

Privacy Concerns

There are very strict privacy laws that govern the release of personal information.

Drug-related Crimes

Drug-related criminal activity against Americans is rare. However, the use of knock-out drugs slipped into a victim’s drink has been reported both as a means of incapacitating a victim for theft of property and for disabling victims of sexual crimes. Police have, in recent years, aggressively targeted drug and drug-trafficking related crime.

Police Response

The quality of police services is comparable in training, efficiency, and expertise to that of most U.S. cities. Police authorities are highly professional, and people are expected to cooperate fully with police requests.

Crime Victim Assistance

In large cities and vacation resorts, an English-speaking officer is usually available to assist crime victims. Victims of any type of crime should notify the police immediately. Follow-up assistance is available through American Citizen Services at the U.S. Consulate, which can be reached at: +43 1 31339 7535.

Austrian emergency telephone numbers (all have English speaking duty personnel):
National Police Emergency: 133
National Fire Emergency: 122
National Medical Emergency: 144 

Medical Emergencies

Ambulance/Medical emergency response number: 144

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

General Hospitals

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

Wilhelminenspital
Switchboard:  +43 1 49 1500

Donauspital SMZ Ost
Switchboard:  +43 1 288 02

Trauma Hospital

Unfallkrankenhaus Lorenz Bohler
Switchboard:  +43 1 33 1100

Available Air Ambulance Services

Austrian Air Ambulance (+43 1 40 144) and Tyrolean Air (+43 512 224 22 100) have several aircraft that are air ambulance capable. Both airlines, based in Austria, have short (hours) response times for limited (less than 10) casualties.

International SOS (+49 6102 3588 100) can draw on a larger pool of continental air ambulance companies with arrival times of 12-24 hours.

Insurance Guidance

Visitors are advised to ensure they have adequate medical insurance that is valid for coverage in Austria.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

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

OSAC Country Council Information

There is currently no active Country Council in Austria. Please contact OSAC’s Europe team if you are interested in private-sector engagement in Vienna or have questions about OSAC’s Country Council programs.

U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation

Boltzmanngasse 16, A1090 Vienna.
Hours of Operation: 0800-1700, Mon-Fri, except holidays.

The U.S. Consulate, to include American Citizen Services for travelers in need of assistance, is located at The Marriot Hotel, Parkring 12A, A1010 Vienna, northeast side entrance, 2nd floor.
Hours of Operation: 0800-1700, Mon-Fri, except holidays.

Embassy Contact Numbers

Embassy switchboard (24 hour): (+43 1) 31339 0
After-hours emergency Tel: (+43 1) 31339 0
Regional Security Office: (+43 1) 31339 2221
American Citizens Services Tel: (+43 1) 313 39 7535
Website: http://austria.usembassy.gov/   

Embassy Guidance

U.S. citizens traveling in Austria are encouraged to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service that helps the U.S. Embassy disseminate information about safety conditions and contact travelers in an emergency.

Additional Resources

Austria Country Information Sheet